We increasingly find ourselves in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment. To prosper we need greater levels of innovation and collaboration.
Here at Anglian Water we don’t have all the answers when it comes to creating the water company fit for the future – if we did then we would already have one. So we recently decided to step out of our comfort zone, reach out to others and try some new ideas – lots of new ideas. The Shop Window project, based around Newmarket in Suffolk, is the canvas for this collaborative exploration of the future.
In the Shop Window we decided to look at new ways of addressing some of the big challenges we face – population growth, climate change and the rising expectations of our customers and regulators.
We began to reach out to some of the most exciting and innovative companies, from new SMEs to large, long established organisations, and ask for their ideas for challenges like tackling leakage, gathering valuable real time data from our network, recycling water using as little energy as possible, influencing real shifts in the way people consume water in their homes and making our assets work more efficiently. We are now working with 105 organisations across 95 projects in the Shop Window area, from smart meters and smart valves to digital mapping, new construction materials and new treatment processes. This is in addition to nearly 1000 companies we work with in our wider Water Innovation Network (WIN).
But we don’t just want to revolutionise the engineering and IT processes behind the scenes, we are also working directly with the 46,000 people who live in this area. The Smarter Drop is the customer focussed public face of the project and, working in partnership with some of the most vibrant and creative people in the arena of influence and behavioural change, the campaign is challenging people to think about water in new ways through local events, involvement in schools and community groups, social media, water efficiency challenges and even its own high street shop.
When we became Responsible Business of the Year in 2017, we committed to sharing our models for collaborative working. So during Responsible Business Week we are releasing three guides to shine a light on how we developed these models and how they are working.
Today we are happy to share our Guide to Innovation from Anglian Water’s Shop Window. We don’t expect anyone to take these models and directly “plug & play” in their local area but we do hope to inspire you with what we see as the art of the possible. We hope that in each guide there is something that can help you create new and successful collaborations in a place that is important to you and your business. As a responsible business network we can demonstrate our leadership by taking up this challenge to make the UK happier, healthier and wealthier place by place.