Severn Trent named winners in Ofwat's Water Breakthrough Challenge

Tuesday 22nd March 2022

Severn Trent has secured funding for three ground-breaking projects, after being named a winner in Ofwat’s latest Water Breakthrough Challenge.

The water and waste company has been awarded a total of £1.6 million through the regulator’s flagship innovation programme, which aims to encourage companies to use new technology and establish cross-sector collaborations.

This trio of projects, which will be delivered alongside multiple partners, are among just 13 overall to be awarded funding by the regulator, in this latest round of the challenge.

The three projects recently given the go-ahead by Ofwat include;

Catalysing a net-zero future – this project will look to develop innovative techniques for capturing bacteria that could potentially help reduce greenhouse gas emissions during the wastewater treatment process.

The Home Energy Recovery Unit (HERU) – a waste recovery system developed to manage domestic and commercial waste on-site. About the size of a chest freezer, this solution will look to use heat pipe technology developed from satellites, to turn screenings into recycled energy.

• Tap water forensics – this project aims to develop the use of genetic sequencing in drinking water treatment. Unlike current tests, genetic sequencing can determine every bacterial species present in water. This new approach could significantly improve the speed and accuracy of water quality investigations in the future.

Rich Walwyn, Head of Asset Intelligence & Innovation at Severn Trent said: “I’m incredibly proud that Ofwat has given their backing to a trio of Severn Trent projects, through the latest Water Breakthrough Challenge. 

“This essential funding means we can press ahead with our partners on all three fronts, which collectively, could deliver significant benefits for our customers, society and the environment.”

Harry Armstrong, Director, Ofwat added: “It is great to see the water sector deliver more exciting and impactful projects through this round of Ofwat’s Water Breakthrough Challenge. The winners all have huge potential to benefit people, society and the natural environment. I’m excited to see these projects become reality and start to make a real difference in the way we do things.” 

Between now and the summer, the Water Breakthrough Challenge will award up to £39m to projects across England and Wales. The Water Breakthrough Challenge is part of a series of competitions from Ofwat, and run by Nesta Challenges with Arup and Isle Utilities, designed to drive innovation and collaboration in the sector to benefit individuals, society and the environment. The winners of £34m of funding will be announced later in the Spring.

The next competition will launch in Autumn 2022. To find out more, visit