The common EU market and environmental standards bring an advantage for designing and validating innovations. Boosting the development of innovative solutions to deal with water challenges and supporting their deployment and market uptake brings significant economic opportunities in a rapidly growing world market for water solutions, in which many European companies are active and where there is strong potential for job creation. A recent analysis of the Potential for stimulating sustainable growth in the water industry sector in the EU and the marine sector provides some insights on this topic. Furthermore, the costs of inaction are significant in terms of losing global market business opportunities for the European industry, including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Inaction could even lead to an increase in the need to imports of adequate technologies. Innovations in reducing water intensity of production processes, water recycling and water reuse in water using industries can bring important opportunities and are prominent in the public-private innovation agendas.
Although water is predominantly a local issue, water problems are increasingly globalised, requiring focus at a range of scales, from local responses to global strategies. While there are many opportunities for innovation based on experiences within the EU, there is a need to look, learn and develop strategic partnership with countries and regions already experiencing the challenges of Europe’s future.
To fully exploit the opportunities for water related innovations in all related sectors, a European strategy and support actions are required to complement national and regional activities and secure synergies among them, while including local perspectives. The opportunities for sustainable economic growth through facilitating innovation are being recognized and have been placed central in the Europe 2020 strategy and its Innovation Union flagship initiative, which has proposed European Innovation Partnerships to deal with grand societal challenges such as water. The EIP Water is not a mechanism to enforce implementation of legislation. But, in addition to economic growth, the EIP-Water expects also to create environmental opportunities by serving as an important tool to support the policy options identified in the Blueprint to safeguard Europe's water resources and the wider European resource efficiency agenda.