The judging panel for the Innovation in Water Challenge

The role of the judging panel is to consider the entries against the assessment criteria and recommend a portfolio of approximately 15 entries to receive a share of the £2 million of the Ofwat Innovation Fund. Ofwat will then make the final decision based on their recommendations.  

The 8 judges that form the panel have been selected for the knowledge and experience they bring both from within the water sector and outside, and their track record of valuing innovative approaches and beyond business-as-usual thinking. Our judges bring a mix of technical expertise, research experience and environmental and consumer interest to enable the robust scrutiny and judgment of proposals. 

Our judges will use their wide range of expertise and experience to help us determine the entries which have the most potential to create a positive impact in England and Wales for customers, society and the environment.

Rachel Skinner, Executive Director (Transport), WSP Global and President, Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), Chair

Rachel Skinner

Rachel is Executive Director (Transport) of WSP and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. She is also the President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). In 2019, she was appointed by the Scottish Government as a Commissioner for the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland. Rachel is a Patron of Women in Transport (a not-for-profit), having been one of its founding board members since 2005. She is a chartered engineer, chartered transport planner and an ICE Fellow and Trustee. Rachel was named in The Telegraph’s inaugural Top 50 Influential Women in Engineering in 2016, then in 2017 she won both “Most Distinguished Winner” and “Best Woman in Civil Engineering” at the European Women in Construction and Engineering Awards. In 2019 she was confirmed by the Financial Times as one of the UK’s Top 100 Women in Engineering. She is regularly invited to give keynote conference presentations and to chair or participate in panel discussions at national industry events. A transport planner and geographer by technical background, Rachel has authored and co-authored several publications, most recently on driverless vehicles, shared mobility and future place-making. She is involved with strategic projects for clients across the public and private sectors, including leadership of a growing portfolio of future mobility projects in the UK and overseas. 

Rachel was invited to the panel due to her technical, environmental, and academia expertise and experience.

Nicole Ballantyne, Knowledge Transfer Manager (Manufacturing), Knowledge Transfer Network

Nicole Ballantyne is a chartered Mechanical Engineer with 3 decades of industry experience in the manufacturing sector, and in innovation support. As Knowledge Transfer Manager in the Manufacturing Team at KTN, Nicole makes targeted links to the right knowledge, partners, facilities and funding with a view to driving productivity, efficiency and economic growth. Nicole’s role in the Manufacturing Made Smarter Industrial Challenge team at InnovateUK is to lead the development of a growing vibrant cohesive community of industrial digital technology providers, developers and users across sectors, supporting manufacturers to embrace digital technology innovation, and technology developers to innovate the best solutions. Nicole started her career as an engineering sponsored student with Metalbox – a 15yr career that led to exciting manufacturing leadership roles throughout Europe. Subsequent varied management roles in the support sector have seen Nicole develop and collaborate in technology & innovation strategies in a whole variety of companies in a plethora of sectors. She holds a M.Sc. from Cranfield, and a B.Eng in Mechanical Engineering from Imperial College. 

Nicole was invited to the panel due to her supply chain, innovation and water sector expertise and experience. 

Myrtle Dawes, Solution Centre Director, OGTC

Myrtle is a Chartered Chemical Engineer, with extensive experience in the energy sector. Myrtle has taken on an array of roles, from being an offshore engineer working for BP, designing offshore and onshore infrastructure in the UK and overseas, to driving digital transformation, and now leading the development of technology for net zero in the energy sector. She was elected to the Institution of Chemical Engineer’s Board in 2015 to 2018, and is currently a member of the Board of Governors at University of Lincoln. In 2017, Myrtle received recognition for her contribution to business, having featured in Breaking the Glass Ceiling and being selected as one of 100 Women to Watch in the Cranfield FTSE Board Report 2017.  

Myrtle was invited to the panel due to her innovation, digital, and water adjacent sector expertise and experience.  

Chris Newsome, Director, UK Water Partnership

Chris is currently an independent Non-Executive Director at Affinity Water and a Director of UK Water Partnership. He has spent the majority of his career in the water industry managing major asset bases and planning for, designing and delivering innovative programmes of work. Chris’ previous roles include: Director of Asset Management at Anglian Water Services Ltd, Chairman of UK Water Industry Research, and President of the Institute of Asset Management. He is a member of the Government’s Green Construction Board and Chairman of it’s Infrastructure Working Group. In 2017, he was awarded an OBE for his services to civil engineering and carbon reduction. 

Chris was invited to the panel due to his water sector, technical and environmental expertise and experience. 

Chris Newsome

Dragan Savic, CEO, KWR Water Research Institute

Professor Savic is Chief Executive Officer at KWR Water Research Institute based in the Netherlands and Professor of Hydroinformatics at the University of Exeter in the UK. He is an international expert in smart water systems with over 35 years of experience working in engineering, academia and research consultancy. His work has resulted in patentable innovation and spinout companies. In addition to innovation and leadership skills, he is known for believing in and practising of bridging science to practice in the wider water sector and utilities in general. Prof. Savic is elected Fellow of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) and a member of the European Academy of Sciences (EurASc). 

Dragan was invited to the panel due to his academia, water and innovation expertise and experience. Dragan also brings a perspective from outside of England and Wales.  

Adam Scorer, Chief Executive, National Energy Action

Adam is Chief Executive of National Energy Action. He has been a consumer rights campaigner for many years including at Which?, energywatch, Consumer Focus and Citizens Advice. As a consumer advocate he has been a member of numerous advisory boards and committees from civil aviation to insurance fraud. Fuel poverty and consumer vulnerability have been a focus throughout his career and Adam was appointed Chief executive at NEA in December 2017. 

Adam was invited to the panel due to his consumer and water adjacent sector expertise and experience. 

Lila Thompson, Chief Executive, British Water

Lila is the Chief Executive of British Water. Lila was formerly responsible for the delivery of British Water’s international services which included leading scoping and business development visits to a wide range of markets including Saudi Arabia, Libya, Morocco, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, China and India. Lila has participated in a number of high-level industry working groups to foster business growth in a variety of sectors and has over 20 years of international experience supporting the adoption of innovation, policy development and stakeholder engagement.  

Lila has a BSc (Hons) in Economics & Social Policy and a Diploma in International Trade. 

Lila was invited to the panel due to her supply chain, water sector, and innovation expertise and experience. 

Rhodri Williams, Wales Chair, Consumer Council for Water

Rhodri is currently the Wales Chair for CCW. Rhodri has extensive experience of working in numerous executive and non-executive roles in both the public and private sector and is currently a non-executive Board Member of S4C. He previously served as Ofcom’s first Director in Wales where he played a leading role in ensuring people – particularly in rural areas – received access to fast broadband speeds and mobile services. 

Rhodri was invited to the panel due to his consumer, water sector and regulatory expertise and experience.   

We thank the Innovation in Water Challenge judging panel for giving up their time and expertise on a pro-bono basis. The process to appoint judges to the IWC panel were as follows:  

  • We identified a series of criteria, aligned tothe 5 strategic innovation themes, that would provide a balance of knowledge, experience and technical expertise to ensure the most suitable coverage for panel membership 
  • Ofwat, Isle, Arup and Nesta Challenges sought out individuals who would be representative of these criteria and bring strong water and non-water perspectives to the judging panel.  
  • We reached out to candidates to invite them to join the panel. 

Please note, we are aware that some of these judges may have existing relationships with the water companies eligible to apply to the Challenge. To mitigate this, we have asked them to disclose any real or perceived conflict of interest in advance of starting their role as a judge. Where a conflict of interest exists, the judge would abstain from reviewing the entry and would not participate in any conversation on that entry during the judging panel.  

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