United Utilities has created an Innovation Lab to encourage creative companies to work alongside it on new systems and technology.

During the 10 week programme, it’s hoping to encourage new thinking across safety, wellbeing, predictive maintenance, connected home, customer interactions and the future of the water sector.

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“The water sector is an exciting place right now. The best companies will be looking for business solutions from non-traditional sources and bringing ideas from other sectors into water,” explained Steve Fraser, United Utilities’ chief operating officer.

“We know it can be hard, especially for smaller innovative businesses, to work with large corporates like us, so our new Innovation Lab will remove some of the old barriers and help level the playing field. We’re looking forward to working with some of the best and brightest talent in the world. Together we can develop those ideas into better and more efficient services, not just for our own customers but right across the water industry.”

The Lab is being run in partnership with L Marks, and successful candidates will be mentored by senior United Utilities staff. They will also get access to office space at the firm’s Warrington head office, to test products in a live environment.

Among the problems it’s hoping to solve are:

  • Smart homes and how Internet of Things sensors can work together to catch water issues early;
  • Whether predictive monitoring solutions help resolve customer problems before they exist and also help make customer interaction more positive;
  • If tech can better support its workforce, especially lone workers;
  • Predictive maintenance, using data to detect leaks, bursts and floods;
  • Can AI or robotics help in the future?

“United Utilities is the largest listed water company in the UK, making this an industry first for growing businesses to gain access to this level of scale and expert knowledge,” added L Marks chairman Stuart Marks.

“The Innovation Lab is a unique stage for businesses both inside and out of the water industry to get a front row seat to challenge the future of water. I am delighted that United Utilities have chosen L Marks as their partner to discover and assist with the development of these new and relevant innovations.”

Applications close at midday on 18th September.