Severn Trent has supported a University of Exeter EngD researcher to develop his research into a business that provides sustainable water management solutions.

The Centre for Water Systems (CWS) at the University of Exeter is an internationally leading centre for water engineering research. The strength of the Centre is research into hydroinformatics and urban water management, and Centre staff have been key players in the initiation and on-going development of these topics.

Severn Trent have been working with the CWS over the last 10 years and have supported several PhD and EngD students.

David Butler, Director of the Centre for Water Systems, said: “It’s vital for us to work with leading players in the water sector, such as Severn Trent, as it helps us to co-create our research and enhance its applicability for the real world”.

Severn Trent is the UK’s second biggest water company. It serves 4.1m homes and business delivering almost 2bn litres of water every day through 46,000km of pipes. A further 94,000km of sewer pipes take waste water away to almost 1,000 sewage treatment works.

Since 2013 Severn Trent have brought this expertise to Safe & SuRE, a £1.5m Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funded fellowship project led by the CWS. The project aimed to develop sustainable and resilient solutions for urban water management at a time of global uncertainty. Severn Trent played an important role in the steering group and was instrumental in working with academics to identify knowledge gaps and potential applications of the research.

One application is in the development of OTA Analytics, a Safe & SuRe spin out company, which provides real time control solutions for utilities, commercial customers and domestic installations. The company facilitates development of novel predictive analytics tools and hardware which can support water companies to remotely monitor and control decentralised rainwater and stormwater assets.

Founder and Managing Director of OTA Analytics Dr Peter Melville-Shreeve worked on the Safe & SuRe project and undertook his Engineering Doctorate in collaboration with Severn Trent. He explains how having the support from Severn Trent helped to build the company: “The sheer scale of the Severn Trent network, along with the go-forwards attitude of the Innovation team helped OTA build a business plan and identify an investor partner. Since then, we’ve gone from strength to strength building a specialist team of experts whilst continuing to pursue innovative solutions to help build resilience in the water sector.”

John Brewington, Innovation Manager at Severn Trent said: “We need innovative ways to help solve the issues that we face today. Collaborating with a leading academic centre, such as the Centre for Water Systems, helps us be at the centre of new research and places us in a strong position to collaborate. We want our work with universities to create impact and are proud to have supported Pete and now OTA as we trial new approaches to industry wide challenges”.

This article first appeared in the 2019 State of the Relationship report published 19 June 2019.