The Technology Innovation Agency (TIA) and Innovate UK, the UK Government’s innovation agency, have initiated a ZAR 16 million fund. It aims to bolster collaborative research, development, and commercial partnerships between South African and British water utilities, focusing on innovations in water management, distribution, and treatment.
Named the “UK-SA Water Innovation Lead Customer Programme,” this fund comes at a critical time when both South Africa and the UK face pressing water security challenges, including shortages, infrastructure limitations, and the global drive to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 (“Clean Water and Sanitation for All”).
The primary objective of this fund is to cultivate partnerships between South African and British water utilities and innovators with proven solutions that expand access to clean water and sanitation. It’s designed to tackle shared issues such as drought, aging infrastructure, and population growth. Dr. Nee-Joo Teh, Head of Global Alliance at Innovate UK, views this as a significant opportunity to strengthen ties between the two countries and create global value through collaborative innovation.
TIA, in line with its mission to leverage technological innovation for the benefit of South Africans, highlights the initiative’s potential to stimulate economic growth and enhance citizens’ quality of life. Eligible entries for the fund should propose partnerships between South African and UK-based organizations, with TIA contributing ZAR 5 million and Innovate UK providing GBP 500,000 for their UK counterparts.
The fund is categorized into two streams based on Technology Readiness Levels (TRL). The first stream covers TRL 4 to 6, offering grants up to ZAR 500,000 for South African entities and GBP 25,000 for UK partners. Projects at TRL 6 to 8 can receive up to ZAR 1 million and GBP 100,000, respectively. The focus areas include digitalization and effective waste management in the water sector.