United Utilities has launched its second accelerator programme to help innovative businesses grow and develop their solutions through a collaborative approach.

Following last year’s successful Innovation Lab programme which saw seven companies developing their ideas, United Utilities has started the application process looking for its second cohort. The Innovation Lab offers a unique opportunity for innovative businesses to collaborate with the water company, helping to tackle key business challenges.

“Last year’s Innovation Lab was a huge success. We made connections and set up contracts with some exciting new suppliers that would never have crossed our path otherwise,” said Steve Fraser, chief operating officer of United Utilities. “It’s fair to say that the Lab helped us to hone our PR19 business plan, bringing innovation right to the forefront to help meet the challenge of delivering more to our customers for less.

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“We’re very excited to launch the second Innovation Lab and we’re looking forward to hearing from even more companies with great ideas,” Fraser added. “Together we can develop those ideas into better and more efficient services, not just for our own customers but right across the water industry.”

Once again, the programme is being run with corporate innovation specialist, L Marks.

“We are delighted once again to partner with United Utilities in delivering the second Innovation Lab,” said Daniel Saunders, chief operating officer of L. Marks. “The first Lab was a huge success capped by the Supply Chain Excellence Award at the Utility Week Awards 2018. We are looking forward to uncovering the most exciting and innovative companies that can help address United Utilities’ key business challenges and build on the success of the 2017/18 programme.”

Those successful in gaining a spot in the Lab will be co-located and work closely with United Utilities to test, develop, improve, and demonstrate their product or service in a live customer environment over a 10-week period.

In addition, the programme will enable the successful applicants to build relationships with senior United Utilities executives, potentially leading to longer-term commercial partnerships.

This year each category is focussed on how innovative companies can help them develop their systems thinking plans and improve service performance addressing the following challenges:

  • Connected Customers: Technology and connected devices can help provide a world class service to customers as well as helping them be more in control of water usage in their home.
  • Empowered, Knowledgeable Colleagues: United Utilities is a people-driven business and it wants to focus on finding new ways of enabling employees to share best practice and knowledge across the organisation.
  • Right Information, Right Place, Right Time: United Utilities is adopting a centralised “systems thinking” approach, allowing it to operate and monitor its assets as an end to end network. Currently, UU has a large amount of data from multiple sources. What solutions can help it improve data management and provide greater insights to the right person, in the right place and at the right time?
  • Future of Water: What will the water company of the future look like? Do you have a technology that can help provide sustainable, cost effective and relevant services for water customers? Can you help improve services such as reducing leakage, internal, and external sewer flooding or minimising disruption to customers? United Utilities is interested in hearing about ideas and technology that can help it meet the challenges of the future.

Applications are open until midday on April 15, 2019. For more information about the programme and challenges, visit the Innovation Lab’s website

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