EU-wide cooperation to boost innovation in water efficiency
With EU funding, the WE@EU (Water efficiency in European urban areas) project set up a European platform enabling participating clusters and regions to combine knowledge and innovation potential through transnational collaboration and mutual learning. France, Israel, Malta, Spain and the United Kingdom all face similar challenges that affect water availability. They met to address the improvement of water efficiency, recognising the need to improve their performance in key aspects of urban water management by establishing mutually beneficial partnerships and collaborating across sectors. Research-driven water clusters were identified to support collaboration across these European regions. The five water clusters improved capacities in water innovation in urban areas, and fostered strong links among them in order to generate new opportunities and share their experiences. Special emphasis was placed on the improvement of Malta's water innovation infrastructure. Overall, 214 cluster associates benefited directly from the project, and 147 enterprises either directly or indirectly. In total, 482 brokerage events targeting companies/entities were organised, 17 site visits took place, and 1 236 cluster attendees participated in events. In addition, the 5 clusters welcomed 147 new members. Lastly, project partners analysed the socioeconomic impact of the project in each region. WE@EU gathered academia and business, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, together with regional authorities and other stakeholders to transform knowledge into innovative products, services and skills in urban water management. This should strengthen regional capacities, unlock business opportunities among the participating regions, and stimulate investment in research development and innovation. As a result, greater transparency and visibility of the regions in the European and global markets can be realised to ensure the future sustainable and competitive socioeconomic development of this sector.
Water efficiency, urban water management, WE@EU, water clusters