The European Innovation Partnership on Water (EIP Water) is an initiative within the EU 2020 Innovation Union. The EIP Water facilitates the development of innovative solutions to address major European and global water challenges, which we cannot address or solve with current or business-as-usual approaches and technologies. At the same time, the EIP Water supports the creation of market opportunities for these innovations, both inside and outside of Europe.
For the European Innovation Partnership on Water (EIP Water) “innovation” is a concept which can only be described rather than properly defined. Our working definition of “innovation” in the water sector involves the introduction and application of new or hitherto unknown
to markets, governments and society that lead to a significant benefit of better resource governance and management. Innovation incorporates a somewhat fundamental change of how things are done today or were done before. “Innovation” can be either new or unknown globally, or in a specific geographical, ecological or socio-economic context, or at a specific scale; and may contain an element of replication into other areas. Innovation usually refers to already advanced Technology Readiness Levels (TRL), based on previous research and learning. Innovation can consist of eight tangible dimensions: Human resources, Research systems, Finance and support, Firm investments, Linkages & entrepreneurship, Intellectual assets, Innovators, and Economic effects, as described by the Innovation Union of the European Commission.
The EIP Water aims to remove barriers by advancing and leveraging existing solutions. In its implementation phase, the EIP Water will promote and initiate collaborative processes for change and innovation in the water sector across the public and private sector, non-governmental organisations and the general public.
Eight priority areas have been chosen for the EIP Water. They centre on challenges and opportunities in the water sector (water policy, planning and management, water utilities, water users, as well as the development of water-related solutions), and on innovation driven actions that will deliver the highest impact. Five thematic priorities have been selected:
- Water reuse and recycling
- Water and wastewater treatment, including recovery of resources
- Water-energy nexus
- Flood and drought risk management
- Ecosystem services
In addition, selected cross cutting priorities are:
Smart technology has been defined as an enabling factor for all priorities.
The EIP Water is led by a Steering Group consisting of high-level representatives of relevant stakeholder groups and spanning both the demand and supply sides of the water sector. The Steering Group and EIP Water are supported by a Task Force, composed of stakeholder representatives with relevant knowledge. The Task Force has worked from September until December 2012 to prepare the EIP Water’s Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP), which was adopted on 18 December 2012. Tasks and responsibilities of the structures are described in the Strategic Implementation Plan.
The role of the European Commission is to act as a facilitator for the EIP Water, keeping oversight and driving the overall process. In addition, the EC will provide a link with EU funding mechanisms and relevant policies in order to support the activities of the EIP Water and to take recommendations into consideration.
Multi-stakeholder Action Groups are central to the implementation of the EIP Water. Our now 29 Action Groups are committed to work on one or more actions defined under each priority area, laid out in the SIP and according to the three “Calls for Expression of Commitment for Action Groups” launched in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The European Commission, with support of the Task Force, selected 29 Action Groups out of over 100 proposals.
The EIP Water will develop tools to support water related innovation. These tools will not necessarily be linked to the priorities of the EIP Water, but will be open to any actor dealing with water and innovation.