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  • by Karma Loveday

Water investment faces "persistent barriers" says supply chain executive

Water sector investment is impeded by “common and persistent market barriers in water technology adoption,” according to water technology firm, Xylem's vice president of innovation, Mark England.

The barriers, England said, include:

  • lack of investor appetite;

  • variables on the return on investment;

  • the scale of funding needed for validation testing;

  • procurement and bidding processes not being fit for purpose; and

  • the complexities of navigating the water market.

Speaking ahead of this year’s water tech showcase, Blue Tech Forum, England said: “Water sector investment has typically lagged behind investment in other infrastructure areas. That’s partly because water itself is not valued highly enough, and partly because the regulatory landscape has been changing faster than the typical investment return cycle, which affects investor confidence. 

He went on: “Funding to test out solutions can also be a large deterrent – many technologies can only really be validated at scale, and that means that pilot projects can be relatively expensive and are often perceived as too high risk.”

England called for greater focus from the industry on wastewater which was “an incredibly rich resource and rethinking the attitude to the way that the industry plans and values the processing of wastewater is key to meeting the sectors net zero goals in the future.”

According to organisers of the forum, consultancy, BlueTech Research, its findings show water innovations typically take 12-16 years to go from initial concept to market-ready solution. The company said a founding goal of the forum is to reduce this lead time to 6-10 years.

Chief technology officer for Veolia, Glenn Vicevic, said, “Innovation is typically a slow development curve in the water industry but participating in BlueTech Forum will help us to accelerate in this area.”

The intention of this year’s Forum, scheduled for 17 May, according to BlueTech Research chief executive, Paul O’Callaghan is to “prove to the investors, end-users, and corporations that attend that there are many pathways to reaching collective goals and visions.


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