UKWIR Appoints executive pairing to deliver Centre of Excellence

UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) has announced the appointments of Shaunna Berendsen as Client Programme Director and Carly Perry as Consultant Executive Lead to oversee the establishment of the UK water industry’s Innovation Centre of Excellence.

UKWIR is leading the sector’s efforts to establish a Centre of Excellence (CoE) which was identified in the industry’s Innovation Strategy published last
year. Funding to establish the centre has been secured through a successful bid to Ofwat’s Innovation in Water Competition – which is being matched by water companies through UKWIR.

The CoE will be an innovation accelerator hub, promoting collaboration within and beyond the sector and driving transformational innovation – addressing the biggest challenges facing the water sector.

Shaunna is joining the Centre of Excellence from Anglian Water where she led the innovation engagement team – she was responsible for sustaining supplier engagement through the Anglian Water Shop Window and driving the company’s innovation culture. She has worked on both client and customer side roles within the water sector and is also a sustainability ambassador for the Major Projects Association.

Carly, who currently leads the water consultancy team at SIA partners and holds a Board position with Future Water, led the sector’s Open Data programme, mobilising companies to create a sector-wide strategy and a multi-year programme – including exploring funding options. She has close to 15 years’ experience managing complex programmes across the water sector, including for the opening of the non-household retail market and technical PR19 programmes.

Shaunna Berendsen said “’The UK Water sector is already collaborative and innovative, so having an organisation dedicated to simplifying, enabling, and fast-tracking that is a radical shift which will benefit the supply chain, utilities, and customers. I’m excited to be a part of such a transformational organisation and am keen we start delivering impact as soon as possible’

Carly Perry said “the industry Innovation Strategy provides a centralised view of strategic priorities and a Centre of Excellence gives the sector an opportunity to supercharge collaboration and bring new ways of working to solve some of the biggest challenges. I’m thrilled to be working with the team to share my personal experience, as well as the wealth of sector and innovation understanding Sia Partners can bring.”

Shaunna will bring an invaluable water company perspective to the CoE, ensuring it meets the sector’s needs and supporting UKWIR’s board, while Carly will be responsible for programme delivery.

Steve Kaye, UKWIR CEO, said “Appointing Shaunna and Carly is a crucial step in establishing the Centre of Excellence. They both bring a wealth of experience and complementary skills to the Centre of Excellence, which will give it the strong foundations it – and the sector – needs.

The Centre of Excellence will build on the work UKWIR is progressing through our 12 Big Questions programme to address the key challenges facing the industry, now and in the future. As we start looking towards PR24, it’s really important we get this right so the sector can deliver the game-changing innovation expected of it”.

The CoE was awarded £250k of funding in Ofwat’s first Innovation in Water Competition in May 2021 which is being matched by water companies, through UKWIR, and will be established before the end of 2021. Both Carly and Shaunna take up their posts at the start of July 2021.

For more information on the project contact UKWIR via

More information: Kanika Bahel 020 3897 6884

Note to News Editors:
UKWIR leads high-quality, collaborative research for the water industry with the aim of improving services for customers, protecting, and enhancing the environment and innovating to meet future challenges. It is a not-for-profit organisation set up in 1993 and is owned and funded by the 19 water companies in the UK and Ireland.

It invests around £3 million in independent research each year – ranging from eliminating water poverty to planning for climate change to reducing leakage – all designed to help tackle the short, medium, and long-term challenges faced by the water sector.

In 2020, UKWIR, with the support of its members, launched Water Innovation 2050 – a strategy to create open collaboration across the water sector and beyond to drive transformational change through innovation.