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What do you do when you can see the Innovation Prize you've designed isn't quite working? You change course. You go back to the drawing board and re-design. You innovate.

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Froeydis Gording, the Dreampipe Prize Manager reflects on the adaptive journey of the Dreampipe Challenge into Dreampipe II.

Stage 1 of the Dreampipe Challenge launched in February 2016, established as an ideation prize aimed at rewarding innovative contractual and financial concepts to support non-revenue water (NRW) reduction activities implemented by water utilities in DFID target countries. This first stage of the Dreampipe prize received 20 submissions and finally awarded three prizes that reflected the wide range of possible solutions to the problem of NRW reduction. The prize also helped to raise awareness around the issue of non-revenue water:

“Whatever else the Dreampipe competition accomplishes, it has already given more publicity to the general public about the problem of NRW than the topic has ever received up to now.”  — Roland Liemberger

But through this first stage of the prize, no “magic bullet” emerged capable of solving the problem of financing NRW-reduction programmes in all water utilities:

We took a complete step back, and thought what can we do? It took several weeks of thinking, reading, talking to people, before we were sitting on a call and I thought we can do a dragons den style tournamen and get some people, help them through, nourish them and to have it small and steady. 



Taking this time to reflect, we were able to identify some key elements that needed adapting to create a more enabling environment for the Dreampipe II innovation prize:

  • Financial Mechanisms V’s Funding Sources: Dreampipe I, Stage 1 focused on new financial mechanisms, with the expectation that funding would be provided by development funders. To enable wider funding sources, we needed to design a prize that would have less risks for funders and generate faster evidence of a commercially viable NRW solution.
  • Dreampipe II Tournament: So, we designed Dreampipe II as a tournament where prizes are awarded at three stages, enabling ideas and plans to be generated along the way, which provides evidence for investors and smaller risks for the utility companies. Aiming to encourage development of commercially viable concepts that have greater long-term sustainability.
  • Blended Innovation & Procurement Methods: Dreampipe II is still seeking innovative financial solutions to non-revenue water reduction, but to strengthen the commercial collaboration and investment, applicants will now be asked to demonstrate who they’ll be working with, in which developing countries and how they’ll be funding the initiative. We’re not defining the solution or the outcome, simply some of the essential ingredients for tackling non-revenue water reduction.

My hope (for Dreampipe II) is for an enabling environment. It can be political and difficult to tackle the commercial risks in non-revenue water.

The goal of the prize still remains the same “Utilities working with Private Companies ready to implement (NRW) schemes – that’s always been the goal, but we’re taking a different route of how to get there. 

Dreampipe II, Stage 1 launches on Friday 21st October at the Water Ideas Conference in Bologna. For more information on Dreampipe II and how to apply for the £1million total prize purse please visit the Dreampipe II website.

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