​The Emerging Opportunities Program makes it possible for the Water Research Foundation to sponsor time-critical research on emergent, high priority subscriber issues. The program also allows us to commit co-funding for subscriber-relevant research ideas developed by approved partner organizations.

Twenty percent of our annual research budget is allocated to the Emerging Opportunities Program and our Board of Trustees obligates funds for the program each January. Individual projects are then approved for funding by the WRF Board of Trustees Executive Committee throughout the year, subject to need and available funding. Such projects generally are of relatively short duration (3-12 months) and typically range in value from $25K - $200K. Project add-ons are limited to $25K. WRF often issues Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for Emerging Opportunities projects.
Research ideas for the Emerging Opportunities Program can come from any stakeholder in the water community, including WRF subscribers, volunteers, staff, partner organizations, researchers, and regulators.
The following criteria will be used qualitatively for recommending to the Executive Committee a project idea
for funding:
  • Time sensitivity. The issue is impacting utilities now or will impact them in the immediate future. (This is the highest priority selection criteria.)
  • Type of impact. Issues with the potential to affect human health are the highest priority; those with cost, water community reputation/image, environmental, or similar implications are of secondary priority.
  • Extent of issue. Issues that affect a broad range of utilities are of greater priority than those confined to a particular region or smaller subset of utilities.
  • Identifiable research solution. A potential research solution can be readily identified and there is sufficient time for this research to have an impact on the issue.
  • Partner/utility co-funding. Projects or project add-ons with a commitment of partner or utility co-funding will be given higher consideration for funding under the Emerging Opportunities program.

In addition to the above criteria, the following criteria will be used qualitatively for recommending to the Executive Committee additional funding of up to $25,000 for an ongoing Water Research Foundation project:
  • Distinct from original scope of work: Funding would further investigate compelling findings that arise during the course of an ongoing project. The additional tasks should not have been addressed in the original scope of work.
  • Impact of the additional work: Additional tasks would greatly strengthen the results of the study for the water community.
  • Timely and cost-effective: Funding add-on would enable additional tasks to be completed in a timely and cost-effective manner.
  • Validated by the PAC: The ongoing project PAC should be supportive of the potential funding add-on and additional tasks.

WRF also provides co-funding through the Emerging Opportunities Program for research ideas developed by Board-approved partner organizations​.  Our partners may submit a screening-level proposal for co-funding consideration in accordance with WRF’s Emerging Opportunities Program Proposal Guidelines (PDF).