Title:Fostering Innovation Within Utilities (For Listeners in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Hawaii)
This webcast, jointly hosted by the Water Research Foundation and the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation, discussed the findings of Fostering Innovation Within Utilities (WRF project #4642). Based on the project’s global survey of over 400 utility employees representing 73 utilities, 91% believe that innovation is critical to the future success of their utility, however only 62% would call their utility “innovative.” Less than 40% report having the key attributes of an innovative organization modeled by leading companies in both public and private industries. Key management gaps include setting clear objectives for innovation, processes for making investment decisions, metrics for process management, and stakeholder engagement practices. Currently, the industry lacks the framework for fostering innovative practices within utilities. 

This webcast showed how utilities transform into idea factories, enabled by a sustainable culture of innovation, broad engagement of stakeholders, and effective leveraging of external resources. Attendees will learn about a simple framework that addresses key disciplines of innovative utilities based on experiences from private industry and over 50 water and wastewater utilities. The presenters will describe the people, processes and systems necessary to operationalize an innovation framework, and describe tools to help utilities assess internal innovation inhibitors and gauge the health of their existing innovation programs. 

Project #4642 was sponsored by the Water Research Foundation, and co-funding was provided by the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation, Birmingham Water Works Board, Toronto Water, Water Services Association of Australia, and the Public Utilities Board Singapore. Over 40 additional water and wastewater utilities participated in and contributed to this project.

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Jason Carter, ARCADIS; Douglas Owen PE, DEE, Owen Water Consulting, LLC; Mark LeChevallier, PhD, American Water; Ed Means, Means Consulting LLC

Mike Dirks, Water Research Foundation; Jeff Moeller, PE, Water Environment and Reuse Foundation (WE&RF)

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