Assessment criteria and guidance

The assessment criteria that will be used to select successful entries, along with the questions you will be asked to answer against these criteria are explained below. All three criteria will be weighted equally.

When completing your application form, please cite the best available evidence to back up your claims, wherever applicable. You may include hyperlinks in your application form.

The online application form is available at this link.

1. Positive impact for consumers, society and the environment

Successful entries will outline how the project delivers positive impact aligned with Ofwat’s five strategic innovation themes. We hope to see:

  • the proposed innovation enablers (as identified above) enhancing the impact and/or delivery of the solution,
  • ambitious short- and long-term outcomes,
  • key performance indicators and success criteria,
  • clear strategy for scaling up the solution after the competition has ended.


We are looking for solutions that can deliver positive impact for consumers, society and the environment, as described in Ofwat’s five strategic themes. The purpose of this question is to explain what kind of impact your proposed solution could have and why it is important.

In your answers, please consider both short-term outcomes (specific impacts which could be achieved over the coming 12 months or so) and long-term outcomes (impacts that could be achieved several years in the future), who is impacted, how widely the impacts will be felt and whether they are direct or indirect.

Application questions

1a. What is the impact that you expect to result from your solution, and who will benefit from it? Please describe the outcomes you are expecting to achieve and the metrics or indicators by which you will verify if you are on track to achieve these outcomes. [4000 characters]

1b. How might you scale the impact of your solution across the England and Wales water sector? Please outline a high-level strategy for scaling up the impact of your solution after the Challenge-funded project has completed. [4000 characters]

2. Innovation enablers and innovative solutions

Successful entries will demonstrate how their proposal goes beyond the entrants’ business-as-usual. We seek a diverse approach to innovation in both innovation enablers (as identified above) and solutions.

Innovation enablers: how entrants are working internally and externally with collaborators within and outside of the water sector for the benefit of consumers in England and Wales, for example:

  • collaboration practices or other ways of doing business,
  • disseminating innovations across the water sector,
  • bringing in new ideas from other sectors (e.g., robotics from gas networks or leakage detection for oil pipelines, etc.)
  • incorporating experimentation into business practices,
  • empowering employees, suppliers, and other stakeholders to contribute their ideas into the innovation process

Innovative solutions: How entrants use a wide breadth of diverse and innovative solutions that drive improvement and efficiencies, for example:

  • novel technologies and new applications of existing technologies,
  • robust systems or processes,
  • better management of people and resources.


We are looking for entries that go beyond your business-as-usual approach and which may draw inspiration and/or talent from other sectors. The purpose of this question is for you to explain what is innovative about your proposed project – both the solution itself, but also any new or different ways of working that you will put into action to deliver the solution.

You should also indicate how any insights or learning generated by the project might benefit customers and the wider sector, even if your solution does not achieve all its intended aims. Please refer to ‘Areas for innovation’ on the previous page for more information.

Application questions

2a. Please explain how you’re planning to go beyond business-as-usual in your ways of working internally and/or externally with collaborations? What do you expect to learn from this experience? [4000 characters]

2b. What is innovative about your solution itself? Please explain how your solution will go beyond your business-as-usual to provide better value for customers and/or drive new improvements and efficiencies in the England and Wales water sector? [4000 characters]

3. Capacity and capability to deliver

Successful entries will provide evidence to the judges to demonstrate the feasibility of the proposed project, including:

  • strength of collaboration arrangements through the entirety of the project life cycle,
  • robustness of development roadmap and resource plan,
  • strategic division of roles and responsibilities among the team,
  • needs-based allocation of funds between partners,
  • a clear and appropriate approach to managing risk; identifying and managing the key risks and opportunities (including in relation to company responsibilities and project delivery),
  • allowing for rapid learning, pivoting and early project closure where appropriate.


We want to know that you have a feasible and robust delivery plan for the project. The purpose of these questions is for you to explain why we should be confident that you will deliver your proposed solution.

You must bid for between £50,000 and £250,000, including a minimum 10% financial contribution. Beyond the 10%, we welcome any additional contributions (which can be financial or non-financial) and which will be considered favourably during the assessment of entries. Please be aware that proposed budgets will not be negotiated as part of the award process, so please submit realistic costs to maximise your opportunity to be selected.

Application questions

3a. How are you planning to deliver your solution? Please describe your:

  • development roadmap and project readiness – a timeline of the key milestones you’re aiming to achieve in your project, including where you’re starting from and intend to get to by the end of the project,
  • resource plan – list of resources, total funds requested from the Fund and any other contributions that you will require (both internal and external, materials, staff, and assets), highlighting the 10% (minimum) of financial contribution that you are required to contribute,
  • budget – how are you planning to spend the funds, including allocation of competition funds between the partners (where applicable), (to support your application, applicants are able to submit a one-page budget breakdown in the format of their choice at the end of the form)
  • approach to identifying and managing the key risks, issues and opportunities, including in relation to company responsibilities and project delivery (allowing for rapid learning, pivoting and early project closure if appropriate).

[8000 characters]

To support your application, applicants are able to submit a one page budget breakdown in the format of their choice. No other supporting document will be accepted for this application. We will not consider any attachments which are longer than one page.

3b. Who will deliver your solution? Please provide the details of the individuals and organisations on the delivery team, their roles and responsibilities and how you will ensure strong collaboration through the entirety of the project life cycle. [4000 characters]