Water Innovators winners announced

6 min read
Winners of Water Innovators!
Image: WaterAid

Sydney Water announced as a joint winner of WaterAid’s Water Innovators 2016!

Staff from Sydney Water in Australia and from Anglian Water in the United Kingdom have been announced as the joint-winners of WaterAid’s Water Innovators Program 2016. 

The elated joint-winners were selected from over 30 teams who took part in the challenge to find water, sanitation and hygiene solutions for real-life projects in Cambodia. 

The teams have spent the last eight months battling it out to devise solutions for their chosen field of WaterAid’s work; either water, sanitation, or hygiene. During the process, they presented a Shark Tank-style pitch to key experts at WaterAid, developed project management plans, and refined their team-working and business acumen skills. 

Water Innovators provides an opportunity for teams from different businesses to stretch their imaginations and skills, and help solve some very real problems for millions of people living in Cambodia without clean water and sanitation. The winners cleverly combined their skills and talents to come up with their design and concept and crucially, the solutions found are not only simple, but affordable and sustainable. 

Sydney Water, took up the ‘hygiene’ challenge. They created innovative ideas to encourage people to use the ‘LaBobo’ – a fun and portable hand-washing device – and built on the existing product to transform it into a multi-functional hygiene unit for use in Cambodian households. 

Team ‘LaBobo’ member, Raymond Llave of Sydney Water said, “We are incredibly proud that Sydney Water Team ‘LaBobo’ has been chosen as joint-winners. This rewarding and meaningful initiative was an excellent platform for us to enhance our professional development, gain new wisdom, and channel our innovative thinking and social commitments.”

This year’s Water Innovators challenge is particularly significant to Sydney Water, as Cambodia is one of their regional aid recipients.

“This is the first time Australian water utilities have competed in the challenge, and I’m so proud that Sydney Water has made such a big impact,” said Sydney Water Managing Director Kevin Young, who is also a Director of WaterAid Australia. 

“Winning the prestigious Water Innovators challenge is a great manifestation of Sydney Water’s values. The entire Sydney Water community has positively contributed to this success which will make a profound impact to others around the world.”

Joint winners, The ‘Aspara’ team from Anglian Water took on the ‘water’ part of the challenge, and devised a way to encourage visitors to a Cambodian hospital to trust the new, safe supply of drinking water. It was centred around encouraging behaviour change.

Nick Blamire-Brown, a member of the winning Aspara team said, “We are overjoyed to be announced as winners of the Water Innovators challenge. This incredible opportunity has allowed us to develop as professionals and channel our creativity. It’s inspiring to know that the hard work from all the teams is already being used to help those who need water solutions urgently. We would really encourage other businesses and teams to join in with this brilliant challenge next year.”

Isabelle Herszenhorn, Innovation and Strategic Engagement Lead at WaterAid said, “We’re so impressed by this year’s teams! y demonstrate how, by taking collective action, we can move one step closer to universal access to water and toilets. Together the 2016 teams have also raised over A$225,000 for our work in Cambodia – this is phenomenal. I want to encourage any interested companies to step forward for Water Innovators 2017. I’m so excited to announce that the focus country will be Nicaragua!”

Taber Hand, Director of Wetlands Work!, one of WaterAid’s sanitation partners in Cambodia, commented, “Through this innovative Program, partners such as ours, gain access to global expertise that is otherwise completely beyond our reach. This is incredibly useful to us at ‘Wetlands Work!’, as we are isolated in a small corner of the developing world.”

In Cambodia, four million people lack access to clean water, while more than nine million have nowhere safe to go to the toilet – a fatal combination which means that people are dying every day from preventable waterborne diseases. WaterAid’s work there is vital to support the Government to ensure universal access by 2025.

Find out more about Water Innovators 2017 and how to get involved at www.wateraid.org/uk/waterinnovators or by emailing [email protected]

Cambodia Challenge information
WaterAid Cambodia submitted three real challenges relating to water, sanitation and hygiene. Teams chose one challenge, and worked together to find solutions:

Water Challenge – WaterAid Cambodia are working with 10 hospitals to install filtered safe drinking water. Cambodians are used to bringing water with them when visiting the hospitals, as the tap water is not trusted to be safe to drink. challenge was to design a new drinking water station that could replace the existing sinks, and develop a communications and marketing strategy to promote the safe water to people visiting and working at the hospital.

Sanitation Challenge – Tonle Sap is South East Asia’s largest freshwater lake and one of the world’s most productive fisheries. Over 100,000 people live in its floating communities. WaterAid and our partners have designed a household wastewater treatment system specifically for this setting. challenge was to develop the design of this system and adapt it for an institutional setting of floating community schools – whilst also being affordable and technically sound.

Hygiene Challenge – Washing hands is the most cost-effective and easy way to prevent disease. Cambodians face a lack of access to water and effective hygiene behaviour. To address this, WaterAid Cambodia and our partners are working to develop and promote the LaBobo – a fun and portable handwashing device. challenge was to develop the appeal and design of the LaBobo, based on specific user feedback and material restrictions.

minimum amount each team needed to raise was A$5,000 and WaterAid provided A$500 seed funding towards this.

Water Innovators 2016 - Category Winners

Overall Winner: (shared)
• Anglian Water, Team name: Apsara
• Sydney Water, Team name: LaBobo

Best Presentation
• Winner – Ernst & Young: PrecipEYtate
• Runner up – Anglian Water: Apsara

Best Innovation
• Winner – Mott MacDonald: Mottley Crew
• Runner up - Queensland Urban Utilities: Queensland Awesome Utilities

Best Learn
• Winner – Affinity Water: Sap Sewerage Savers
• Runner up – Portsmouth Water: Kingfishers

Best Fund
• Winner - Welsh Water: Arnofwyr
• Runner up – Sydney Water: Tuk Sa’at

Best Solve - Water
• Winner – (Combination of 3 Australian water companies) South Aussies Innovators
• Runner up - Skanska: Water You Drinking?

Best Solve - Sanitation
• Winner - MWH Global: Mere Water Heroes
• Runner up - Goulburn Valley Water (GVW)

Best Solve – Hygiene
• Winner – Northumbrian Water: Team ONCE
• Runner up – Yarra Valley Water: Hygienators

All 30+ submissions were reviewed by an expert team at WaterAid to outline a shortlist.

All ‘solve’ challenges were reviewed by the WaterAid Cambodia team and their local partners.