Utility Week

UTILITY Week 1st April 2016

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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20 | 1ST - 7TH APRIL 2016 | UTILITY WEEK Operations & Assets Annual dinner Wipro and Utility Week Innovation and Technology Council London, 15 March 2016 Food for thought The Technology and Innovation Council's annual dinner enabled utility leaders to meet and compare notes on innovation. Mathew Beech reports. T he Wipro and Utility Week Innovation and Technology Council met for its third meeting and annual dinner on Tuesday 15 March in London. The meeting came as the Utility Week and Wipro Innovation in UK Utilities: A State of the Nation Report was published, assessing the strength of the innovation culture within UK utilities. The first area for discussion was the defi- nition of innovation used in the report: "The application of new or novel technologies or ideas in a way that significantly alters of improves established ways of working within the sector." There was general agreement that this was a good definition, but as the conversa- tion developed, the council members sug- gested this definition may be a bit narrow. Their reservations arose around the word "significant". The council members said that using and thinking only towards significant change could exclude important incremen- tal changes. One delegate said moving the printer from one side of the office to the other could be considered innovative if it led to improvements in how the business operated. This was a key point that helped shaped the rest of the night's discussions, which focused on four key themes: culture and innovation; investment and innovation; regulation and innovation; and lessons from other sectors. The council came to the view that the regulators, in their own ways, are helping to promote innovation, and dismissed the notion that regulators "get in the way". Ofgem was praised for encouraging and highlighting innovation via its Network Innovation Competition and Network Inno- vation Allowance schemes. The council also stated that while Ofwat has taken a different approach by focusing on regulatory outcomes, it has given the water companies the freedom to innovate provided they reach these targets. To read Innovation in UK Utili- ties: A State of the Nation Report in full, go to the downloads section of utilityweek.co.uk 3 TO THINK ABOUT... 1. Responsibility for innovation rests with the utility companies. 2. Utilities need to have the aspiration and ambition to be innovative and create an environment in which innovation is possible. 3. Collaboration is key to fostering innovation. This can be within a business, with other organisations within the sector, with the regulators, and even with customers.

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