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CREWW partnership kicks off with research programme launch

6 September 2022

3 minutes to read

CREWW partnership kicks off with research programme launch

Academics from the University of Exeter teamed up with industry experts from South West Water recently, to co-create research solutions – many of which are now being taken forward – to the most pressing business problems facing the water industry.

Held at Exeter Science Park, the event marked the beginning of the collaborative programme of research that will underpin the new Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste (CREWW), a partnership initiative between the University of Exeter and South West Water.

The “design sprint” was attended by more than 25 academics from the University’s Engineering, Geography, Computer Science and Business School departments, who formed teams with South West Water colleagues to design projects in a number of key areas, including:

  • Drinking Water Networks
  • Net Zero and Circular Economy
  • Microplastics
  • Combined Sewer Overflows (CSO’s)
  • Saline Infiltration
  • Customer Engagement and Affordability
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Smart Water Savings

These themes are typical of the interdisciplinarity at the core of the CREWW partnership, which welcomes collaborations and enquiries from researchers across the university.

Projects from the day have already generated research proposals that are now going through CREWW approval processes, with future events on the way as the partnership continues to forge a culture of close collaboration and problem-solving.

Professor Richard Brazier, CREWW’s Director, said: “Having planned the launch of CREWW for some years, it was a great pleasure to bring industry experts and academics from a wide range of disciplines together, face to face, for the first time.”

“The energy and enthusiasm that people brought to the design sprint has already resulted in cutting edge proposals to tackle some of the key challenges that the water sector is facing in areas such as pollution, leakage and microplastics in the environment.”

He continued: “I am looking forward to working with the teams of academics and industry experts to realise the great potential that CREWW has to solve a host of water industry problems in a strategic and evidence-led manner.”

Oliver Raud, CREWW Project Manager at South West Water, said: “The CREWW Programme Launch Event was a real success. Most importantly, it enabled academics from the University of Exeter and subject matter experts from SWW to come together, in person, to collaboratively discuss, explore and co-design solutions to some of the most pressing operational challenges we face, as a business and as a broader sector.

“Now that the dust has settled, after the event, a number of really exciting proposals have been submitted to the CREWW Research Steering Group and have been approved for onward development.

“These projects leverage the most cutting-edge academic research in key priority areas for SWW, helping us to unearth new knowledge and insight that will influence the way in which we operate our assets and networks, in order to continue to improve our protection of the environment and the provision of safe and reliable drinking water and wastewater services across the South West of England.

“Bringing that many people together, to collectively share and build research projects is the reason we entered into this joint venture and we hope to stage more of these events, on a more regular basis, going forward.

How CREWW is pioneering solutions for the water sector

The Centre for Resilience in Environment, Water and Waste (CREWW) will lead pivotal research into water systems, bringing together the best minds from across multiple disciplines to tackle key challenges such as: how to manage natural resources to ensure there is enough water to cope with population growth; and how to prepare vulnerable communities and habitats to adapt to climate change.

The new Centre – which is now under construction and builds on sixteen years of successful partnership between the University of Exeter and South West Water – will accommodate world-class, specialist laboratory facilities, providing a dedicated space to encourage collaborative research and training between academics and experts from the water industry, government and NGOs.

Part-funded by a £10.5m UKRPIF grant from Research England and significant investment from both partners, CREWW will be the first research centre of its kind in the water sector.

Find out more about CREWW here.

For more information please contact:

Josephine Butcher, CREWW Programme Manager, University of Exeter

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