dws-eipwater-general-stage-770px“Public sector should talk more about demand, about future markets, and not talk about taking away barriers. It should be more bold and more aggressive in market making”, with these remarkable words innovation economist Mariana Mazzucato opened her key note at the 3rd EIP Water conference at the WaterCampus Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, on 10 February.

The conference is organised by one of the European Union’s five innovation partnerships, EIP Water, to foster innovation in the European water sector and to help mature and establish partnerships.

Over 700 attendees from all over Europe gathered at te conference to discuss the general challenges and to learn about the 25 action groups that are active within de EIP Water programme on specific subjects resource recovery, prizing of water scarcity, nature based solutions, managed aquifer recharge, urban water resiliency.

dws-eipwater-mazzucato-350pxEconomist Mariana Mazzucato called for public sector to focus more in creation of future markets.

Creating a mission
Economist Mazzucato suggested the public and private water sector to create a joined mission. “The focus should be less on fixing existing markets and de-risking the private sector."

One of the developments that hinders innovation according to Mazzucato is the domination of short term financing. “Innovation is also about learning from failures. Only one in seven innovations is successful. That is the innovation we hear about, not about the ones that want wrong.” Innovation is learnng process that takes time, she explained.

Mazzucato adivsed public and private sectors to make deals and operate in partnerships. “We need to socialize risks and awards”, she said.

Water sector catching up
In the expert panel the discussion continued on the suggestions by Mazzucato. The water sector is considered conservative as it is dominated by the public sector. It’s innovation is lagging behind as much of new water technology is developed by water supply companies for their own purpose and they are not equipped to bring it to the market.

The good news from the discussion is that the water sector is catching up as it engages more in partnerships, to develop new solutions on demand.

Mazzucato suggested to go one step further. The public water sector should be active on market making. “We should get rid of the dominance of the financing. Water is about universal access, a universal right. Why not see that as an overall binding mission.”

Read also on this website
• Cities & water conference: Leeuwarden declaration sets out for ambitious goals on urban water, 12 February 2016
• Cities & Water conference: Before fixing the urban water pipes, fix the institutions, 11 February 2016
• EIP Water conference: Start-ups and innovation is a difficult mix in a fragmented water sector, 11 February 2016
• EIP Water Conference 2016 to discuss actions and recommendations on water innovation, 5 February 2016
• Mayors & Water conference to agree on joint 2030 agenda for urban water, 3 February 2016

More information
European Innovation Partnerships (EIP) Water