In March 2022, Foresight Canada partnered with United Utilities — one of the UK’s leading water companies — and the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service to launch two new innovation challenges seeking water quality and management solutions. After a rigorous evaluation process drawing 20+ highly innovative solutions, technical winners were chosen for each challenge:

Recognizing water as one of our most precious resources, both challenges were focused around water quality and reducing the environmental impact of current systems.

Challenge #1, ‘Reducing the Environmental Impact of Combined Sewer Overflows’, sought innovative solutions to reduce the environmental impact of combined sewer overflows (CSOs). Grande Water Management Systems’ bending weir technology is designed to enhance the wastewater storage capacity of combined sewer systems to reduce the number of overflow events. 

Challenge #2, ‘Innovative Solutions to Improve Water Quality’, aimed to find low chemical and low energy solutions to enhance water treatment. FREDsense’s technology combines the power of live-cell biosensors with an ultra-sensitive electrochemical detection technique. FRED – the Field Ready Electrochemical Detector – uses a biological system to generate an electrochemical signal for various contaminants in water resources.

United Utilities will continue an open dialogue with both Grande Water Management Systems and FREDsense Technologies to see how their technologies progress. 


“Foresight is proud to have partnered with United Utilities and the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service to source sustainable water tech solutions through our SDG Connect program. By connecting international corporate leaders facing sustainability hurdles with Canadian clean and water technology companies, we help accelerate a global transition to a green economy with made-in-Canada solutions.” – Jeanette Jackson, CEO, Foresight Canada.

“Protecting water quality is our number one priority, both the water that comes out of our customers’ taps and the water in our environment,” said Kieran Brocklebank, Head of Innovation at United Utilities. “We’re very excited to see how we might be able to work with [Grande Water Management Systems] and [FREDsense Technologies] on such important issues.”

“Having the opportunity to candidly receive feedback and support from utilities allows us to build better products and align to solving problems within the water sector. […]We are very happy to have participated in the challenge.” – David Lloyd, CEO and Co-Founder, FREDsense

“Grande Water Management Systems’ goal is to reduce combined sewer overflow (CSO) pollution by developing unique and innovative solutions to the world’s CSO challenges. It was a pleasure to work toward this important goal as part of this challenge.” – Francis Grande, Sales and Marketing Manager, Grande Water Management Systems 

Challenge Background

Challenge #1: Reducing the Environmental Impact of Combined Sewer Overflows

Sewer overflows are an important part of the current sewerage network. Combined sewer overflows (CSOs), act as a pressure relief valve when there is too much rainfall, allowing rain water, mixed with sewage, to rise inside the sewer, and eventually enter a separate pipe that flows into a river or the sea. 

Sewers operate this way to help prevent the flooding of streets, homes, and businesses. When we do need to use them, they can sometimes affect river and bathing water quality, albeit temporarily.

This Challenge sought innovative solutions to reduce the environmental impact of CSOs.

Challenge #2: Innovative Solutions to Improve Water Quality

Water quality is a top priority for United Utilities and for their customers. This includes taste, smell, and consistency. This Challenge seeks natural/low chemical and low energy solutions to enhance water treatment. 

United Utilities was keen to explore low cost solutions which could help them further their understanding of areas such as water quality (nutrients, ammonia, turbidity), flood monitoring (sewers, river, surface water), water flow monitoring (source to sea) and monitoring of habitat type and condition.

They were also keen to explore low chemical and low energy treatment processes.

About United Utilities

United Utilities is one of the largest water/wastewater companies in the monopolistic and regulated UK water sector. They have 88 water treatment works and 569 wastewater treatment works spanning the North West of England, serving seven million customers, over three million homes, and 200,000 businesses. United Utilities gathers water from a range of sources, predominantly from their reservoirs in the Pennines and the Lake District. 

Recognizing that quality control starts right at the point of collection, United Utilities keeps catchment land surrounding their reservoirs as clean and sustainable as they can. This helps with the water quality for customers and makes a huge difference to the environment. United Utilities helps protect over 1,300km of coastline and around 7,000km of rivers flowing across the region.

About the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) helps companies navigate the complexities of international markets and make better business decisions. The TCS is on the ground in more than 160 cities worldwide. They gain market intelligence, uncover opportunities for Canadian companies and help reduce business costs and risks. The TCS is a free service of the Government of Canada, helping companies to prepare for international markets, assess market potential, find qualified contacts and resolve business problems. Learn more at the TCS website and follow them on Twitter @TCS-SDC.

About Foresight

Foresight is Canada’s cleantech accelerator. Foresight supports the identification and validation of cleantech opportunities and the successful commercialization of solutions. We bring together industry, government, academia, investors, and innovators to address today’s most urgent climate issues and support a global transition to a green economy. Find out more at Follow on Twitter @ForesightCAC.

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Foresight Canada

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