Innovation

Our vision is to be acknowledged as a leader and exemplar for introducing innovations that serve these purposes.

Why we innovate

For us, innovation means applying new ways of working, new knowledge or new technology for the benefit of people, the environment and the company.

The reasons for innovating are straightforward, revolving around the rapid pace of change, globally and locally.

People’s expectations of service providers are changing, as are the standards we must meet, operating costs, the level of returns to investors deemed acceptable, the amount of competition we face, and employees’ expectations of their employers.

There are also wider changes, such as a warming climate with more unpredictable weather patterns, new pollutants and rapidly advancing technology.

Standing still is not an option – to continue being a leading company, we need to look constantly at new opportunities and better ways to do things.

Our approach to innovation

We aim to understand emerging challenges and opportunities, build on and improve our knowledge and expertise and, partner with others where don't have the knowledge or expertise ourselves.

Our strategy for making innovation happen has three main themes:

  • projects and offerings
  • our internal processes
  • the people involved.

Rather than having a large research and development department, we are building a culture of innovation throughout the organisation.

This is co-ordinated by a small innovation team that monitors the full cross section of work and builds links within and outside the company.

Innovation has been crucial to achieving the goals we set out in our business plan for 2020-25. To lower bills while also delivering significant investment and improvements, we are focusing on efficient, innovative methods with an emphasis on low-cost partnership approaches, as preferred by our customers.

Innovation to net zero

We will need to innovate to achieve net zero carbon

Possible innovative methods include turning sewage sludge into biochar (a high-carbon form of coal); generating or using 'green' hydrogen from renewable sources and promoting natured-based solutions for retaining carbon in soil and wetlands.

While these methods are not yet well-established, we are continuously researching their availability and will take part in trials where appropriate.