An Industry Innovation Ecosystem – building on the strength of industry collaboration to achieve partnerships for impact 

Without a doubt, the last couple of years has led us to question many things we once considered “normal”.  And while we’re in this frame of mind it’s an ideal time to lift our heads and consider whether we have the best arrangements in place to ensure that innovation provides optimum value to customers and the community.  To make sure we include everything in our analysis we need to describe the whole Innovation Ecosystem.

In a nutshell, the Innovation Ecosystem consists of the broad set of stakeholders and functions that work together to enable water businesses to improve the way they do business and increase the value of services to customers and the community. The Ecosystem includes utilities, government, suppliers and researchers; all those with an interest in the success of the water industry. 

WSAA have applied this concept in the development of the new WSAA strategy, where ‘Driving an industry innovation ecosystem’ has been identified as an important component.  

So, what does this mean?  

The water industry has immense potential to build value through innovation, however the ability to realise potential opportunities and translate them into value for customer and business can be inexplicably difficult.   

To ensure that we achieve this potential, we need to work on the whole ecosystem. We need to make better connections between its elements, we need to make its operations more efficient, and we need to raise the industry’s awareness of how it functions. 

The last two years have demonstrated the capability of the industry to adapt and, more importantly, sustain elevated levels of service through ever changing systems and risks – think pandemic, bushfires, droughts, floods, supply chain risks etc. It, therefore, had to be asked, how can we capitalise on this capability and harness it to improve the impact from innovation at an industry level? 

Looking ahead, the water industry needs to take better advantage of the strong research linkages, facilities, and market demand available to drive the transformation needed to meet future uncertainty. To better understand this, the Industry Innovation Ecosystem concept provides a structure to ensure that discussions and initiatives address all elements of the system that helps us to address uncertainty and enable the step change we so desire and feel the industry can be achieved. 

As part of our current work there are a number of exciting events set to take place, including opportunities for our members to explore innovation ecosystems from other countries and regions around the world. Our first event was a presentation from the Water Campus based in the Netherlands that explored the triple helix model. The experience of the Water Campus shows what can be achieved when government, industry and academia are able to work in partnership in a competitive environment. The webinar provided insights on: 

  • Achievements that can be made through strong alignment across government, industry and academia. 
  • The need for testing facilities: from bench scale to pilot scale, and a networked capability for sharing information. 
  • How barriers and bureaucracy can be addressed and overcome when worked in partnership to achieve better outcomes and value. 

We see the growing appetite of our members, emboldened by the pandemic response, to drive an Industry Innovation Ecosystem. Our aim is to better support collaboration between our members and extend engagement to the broader industry to create new partnerships to drive innovation for impact within this decade of action.  


If you’d like to know more about WSAA’s Innovation Ecosystem contact Jason Mingo at WSAA –  [email protected]