WIDEST was present at the 3rd EIP Water Conference from 9-11 February 2016 in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands.
On 10 and 11 February, the EIP Water Conference provided a thought-provoking and pragmatic exchange about innovation and how innovation partnerships in general, and specifically in the water sector, are progressing in Europe. Speakers in the conference with almost 550 participants from over 50 countries appealed to stakeholders to be mission-driven and ambitious, with governmental agencies not simply taking on the role of facilitating private sector engagement, but being an integral part of the innovation chain by setting the roadmap, helping partners to navigate along it and ultimately being part of the team that celebrates the accomplishments.
The conference concluded with the Leeuwarden declaration, which presents the key findings of the event and sets out a set of actions to addressing the main barriers to innovation in the water sector and how to overcome them. Some of the most relevant recommended actions regarding water innovation were:
- Circular economy: The re-use and recycling of water for addressing water scarcity.
- Regions and cities: authorities are urged to give water innovation a high priority when implementing programmes as well as projects in climate change adaptation plans.
- Sustainable Development Goals and its targets shall be addressed in an integrated way.
- Regulation: Member States and the EC are asked to review and harmonise water-relevant regulatory domains delivering environmental, economic and societal benefits.
- Finance: all stakeholders in the water sector are urged to keep innovation high on the agenda to ensure adequate, demand-side based access to financial resources.
- Public procurement: Both the EC and EAFIP are asked to pay special attention to public procurement in the water and water-dependent sectors by identifying and addressing the specific challenges for the uptake of innovation by public procurers in the water sector.
- Partnerships: Public and private sector stakeholders in water innovation are asked to develop and disclose best-practices in partnership approaches.
- Showcases and demonstration sites: The EU Member States, research institutions and relevant stakeholders are asked to further develop showcases and demonstration sites and increase their visibility for replication and adaptation to markets and implementation.
On the framework of the conference and on behalf of the ICT4Water cluster, WIDEST coordination and support action organised a side event where advances of EC funded projects related to ICT applied to water sector were presented, together with two special sessions about Big Data, and another one about the EIP Water Marketplace.
During the event, several projects presented solutions and latest developments related to water management and to achieve sustainability and public awareness thanks to the usage of platforms tools, smart sensors and meters. Some of them are focusing on improving quality and efficiency in water usage (Proteus, Innoqua, Waternomics, DAIAD, SmartH2O, iWIDGET). Their good results were supported by the increasing number of efficient communities aware of the current problematics related to water quality and availability. Outstanding improvements have been achieved while managing water infrastructures, reducing energy consumptions, detecting water distribution network leakages and matching water supply with demand (EFFINET, WatERP, DAIAD, Waternomics, FREEWAT). Together with that, special efforts to standardisation and interoperability capabilities have demonstrated the convenience of a holistic management, helping improving the systems as a whole (WatERP, FREEWAT, WaterInnEU, WIDEST, KINDRA). Moreover, and to facilitate technology transfer and market reach, the EIP Water Marketplace remarked its mission providing an interconnected grid of stakeholders, driving innovation forward thanks to its single point access, and its matchmaking between demand and supply on Water Innovation (people, projects, organisations, products and services).
Finally, special sessions involving Big Data matters in the water sector were provided by the Big Data Value Association, the Big Data Europe H2020 CSA project and the Barcelona Big Data Centre of Excellence. These sessions were focused on demonstrating and showing Big Data Value ecosystems, and sustainable data marketplaces. However, there are still several barriers to overcome (variety, opening-up data concerns, limited skills, training, technology), and special efforts are being dedicated to compile regional data repositories to interlink, centralise access, explore, mashup, cross-domain exploit, analyse, discover and visualise information. For this reason, cloud-deployment ready Big Data ecosystems are being freely offered, reducing the time to develop and the time to market of concrete solutions.