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£10.5m funding for new collaborative research centre

A £10.5 million investment will fund a pioneering new collaborative research centre that is designed to solve some of the most pressing global environmental challenges of our time, with South West Water playing a leading role in its development.

Research England has announced the funding for The Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste (CREWW) – a joint venture between the University of Exeter and South West Water. 

The centre, which will be based on the university’s Streatham Campus, will conduct world-leading research into the provision of safe and resilient water services in the UK and overseas.

Central to its focus will be how to manage  natural resources to ensure there is sufficient water to cope with population growth, the pressures of climate change, and improving resilience to the potentially devastating effects of flood, drought and emerging pollutants.

The new centre, which has also received more than £20 million of funding from South West Water, will accommodate state-of-the-art, specialist laboratory facilities, and designated space to encourage collaborative research between academics and experts from the water industry.

The research will draw on Exeter’s world-leading expertise across a wide range of disciplines to develop innovative new solutions that benefit the environment, global societies and the economy.

The University of Exeter's Professor Richard Brazier, the director of CREWW, said: “Building upon our more than 10-year research track-record with South West Water, we will answer a wide range of challenging questions that will help the water industry deliver environmental improvements whilst safeguarding water supply and improving water treatment.

“Transdisciplinary working will therefore be at the heart of the CREWW, drawing together academics from across the University to work alongside, train, learn from and engage directly with water industry professionals, for many years to come.” 

The innovative research that will be conducted at CREWW will primarily focus on the pressing issues facing the waste and water sectors, nationally and internationally.

These include how to protect drinking water supplies from pollution, protecting water supply networks, and predicting and preventing pollution from the wastewater network.

It will also pioneer new research to enhance the safe treatment and disposal of wastewater – which includes issues such as microplastics and anti-microbial resistance.

The research will be undertaken by academics from geography, biosciences, engineering, economics, the medical school and psychology, who will work with industry, government and NGO partners.

South West Water will play a leading role in the development of the new centre.

The centre will enable SWW to use pioneering new technology, such as robotics or artificial intelligence, to enhance water efficiency, create better water treatment processes and reduce potential impacts on the natural environment.

Ed Mitchell, director of environment at South West Water, said: “We’re delighted the Centre for Resilience in the Environment, Water and Waste has been awarded funding from Research England.

“Climate change, population growth and increasing customer expectations are key challenges facing the water industry so it’s vital to invest in finding new innovative and environmentally sustainable solutions.

“South West Water already has a strong partnership with the University of Exeter in this regard. The centre is an exciting development which will bring multiple environmental benefits through collaborative working and cutting-edge research and innovation.”

Professor Mark Goodwin, deputy vice-chancellor (external engagement) at the University of Exeter, said: “We are delighted to have secured such a significant level of funding for this world-class facility. The centre will not only provide innovative new solutions to some of the main challenges of providing safe and resilient water supplies worldwide, but also confirms the university’s pivotal role in leading exciting and crucial environmental research.”

The centre’s funding came through Round 6 of Research England’s flagship capital investment scheme, the UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF).

It is one of 11 new projects to receive investment totalling more than £670 million.

For more information about CREWW, visit: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/creww

Author: Robin Hackett, editor, WWT
Topic: Innovation
Tags: South West Water , research & development , water resource management , wastewater treatment


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