Project #4739

Funding Innovation: Turning an Idea into a Line Item

Principal Investigator
Research Manager
Kenan Ozekin, PhD
Water Environment & Reuse Foundation
Risk Assessment
Utility Management


The benefits for innovation within water and wastewater utilities are well documented. Benefits include providing information to make sound decisions, improving operational efficiency, minimizing long term financial risk, and fostering an environment of continuous improvement. Fostering Innovation Within Water Utilities (project #4642), funded by WRF, WE&RF, and several co-sponsoring utilities, developed a framework that communicates the value of innovation and identifies simple steps for building an ecosystem for developing and implementing new ideas. The framework is an excellent resource for development of an innovation program and includes case studies from utilities who have implemented programs on a low budget.

In November 2017, WRF, WE&RF, and the Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association (RMWEA) held a workshop that used the #4642 framework as a base and took a deep dive into funding innovative thinking, projects, and programs with limited budgets and ongoing strains on existing employee capacity. Representatives from utilities that are building or had an interest in building innovation within their utility interacted with national and international industry leaders. The workshop included expert presentations and activities for participants to identify tips and tricks for successfully turning an idea into a budget line item, opportunities for potential partnerships, and solutions for overcoming barriers.

Results of the workshop are posted below. These fact sheets were developed using presenter information and participant brainstorming. A video is also available.