University-Utility Partnership

Fostering stronger connections between utilities and universities for the research, development, and testing of innovative solutions is a priority for us. Improved collaborations and engagement provide win-win scenarios for both sectors and advance new technology development and deployment.

Affiliates can help foster an improved utility-to-university ecosystem for innovation where new water solutions are developed through meaningful partnerships and interaction.

Making A Connection

Affiliates and their members will soon be able to use guidance documents to better connect utilities and universities in their region, as well as to develop and implement additional initiatives and activities such as internships, scholarships, faculty sabbaticals at utilities, programs to encourage and reward student growth and achievement in innovation, and more. 

University Benefits

  • Real-world training and experience for students that increases employment potential post-graduation
  • Synergies with practitioners in developing new technologies and processes
  • Additional patent opportunities
  • Improved understanding of end user R&D needs
  • Better outcomes and higher likelihood of solutions being adopted and implemented by industry

Utility Benefits

  • New solutions and insight into utility problems
  • Low-cost technical problem solving
  • Identification of new talent for staffing and/or contracting
  • Proactive and progressive approach to problem solving
  • Minimized risk for innovative technologies (e.g., through research and piloting) for faster adoption and cost savings

Research Project Highlight

We created a university-utility partnership program to communicate best practices, challenges, and successes of university-utility collaboration to advance water research and innovation. We're also working in collaboration with a number of prominent water organizations to develop tools and resources that support the university-utility partnership program. 

Additional Resource

This guidance document, jointly created by WRF and WEF, includes information on best practices, information on general characteristics of successful partnerships, dealing with distance, risk management and more. You can find a direct download for the guidance document from the Water Environment Federation's website. 


Please email us your questions about university-utility partnerships.