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UU launches Innovation Lab to overcome business challenges

United Utilities (UU) is seeking businesses with innovative new ideas in safety, wellbeing, predictive maintenance, connected home, customer interactions and the future of the water sector.

As a result, the company has launched its new Innovation Lab, inviting bright and creative firms to work with it on key business and customer challenges.

The ten-week programme will be run in collaboration with corporate innovation specialist L Marks, and successful candidates will be mentored by senior UU business leaders and tech experts. They will have access to office space in UU’s head office in Warrington to develop their ideas as well as being able to test their products in a live environment.

UU and L Marks will also provide potential investment opportunities.

Through the Innovation Lab, the company is looking for pitches which deliver innovation solutions to key customer and internal challenges covering:

  • Connect Water / Customer – Smart homes and connected devices are a growing trend. How can the Internet of Things and sensors work together to catch water issues early and help customers manage their water bills better?
  • Proactive Customer Actions - How can new technology like predictive or monitoring solutions help UU to resolve issues before a customer even notices they exist? How can UU make its internal processes seamless and transparent to customers and make customer interactions more positive?
  • Safe and Healthy Worker – With more than 5,000 employees across the business – undertaking tasks including asset repair, maintenance, visiting customers and moving from job to job – how can UU better support the workforce, especially lone workers?
  • Predictive Asset Maintenance – UU is reacting to maintenance issues every day which could have saved disruption, time and money if they had been predicted sooner. How can predictive tools help pull together data sources to detect when and where leaks, bursts or floods are going to happen, to help UU manage its water and wastewater networks more proactively?
  • Future of Water - UU wants to work smarter to maintain the highest levels of customer service, reduce costs and reduce energy consumption. How can it stay ahead of the curve in these areas by using future technologies in the fields of energy management, artificial intelligence or robotics?   

Commenting on the launch of the United Utilities Innovation Lab, Steve Fraser, UU chief operating officer, said: “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.

“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.”

L Marks chairman Stuart Marks said: “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 are now open and will close at 12noon on September 18, and can be made by clicking here

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