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Embedding Innovation at Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water

Delegates from Welsh Water Dwr Cymru.
Delegates from Welsh Water Dwr Cymru.

Welsh Water worked with us to develop innovation capacity across their organisation. The result is a ground-breaking programme that has generated both immediate and long-term benefits.

The brief

With its unique not-for-profit model in the utilities sector, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water provides essential water and wastewater services to over three million people across much of Wales, Herefordshire and Deeside. Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water is owned by its customers which means that innovation is crucial to lower costs, to limit the impact on the environment and to reduce risks.

The company aims to generate around 25% of its energy needs by 2020. Key to this is vast investment in new technology and effective use of near-to-market innovations.

The solutions

The Embedding Innovation programme for Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water was designed as the second phase of a wider bespoke programme created for the company. The first phase focussed on embedding innovation to improve efficiency; in the new programme, we combined that principle with effective tools to cascade learning and help create a culture of innovation throughout the organisation.

The four-day Embedding Innovation programme was built around knowledge transfer and exploration sessions, combined with practical innovation work-streams in the afternoon where participants worked on real company improvements. This facilitated the process of embedding tools and methods throughout the whole organisation.

The assessment methodology of individual learning logs, Innovate! workbooks and presentations allowed delegates to consolidate their learning and gain ten academic credits which can potentially be used to build towards a further qualification.


This programme created immediate benefits and long-term solutions for Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, enabling managers from across the organisation to pool their knowledge, test existing innovation processes and, in the words of a Dŵr Cymru Waste Water manager, “become better at finding, assessing, buying and contracting for innovation”.

The programme had a unique momentum, building ideas from abstract concepts, conversation reflection and new experience in order to create practical and real outputs for the organisation.

Projects ranged from developing new products and processes for reviewing equipment faults to an examination of the internal innovation culture and triggers for behaviour change. Embedding Innovation is now an integral part of Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water’s people/innovation strategy.

Sample innovation project

A change in regulation meant Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water had to review the existing maintenance strategy for their water filters. Quality of service moved centre stage where historically age and deterioration had been the main criteria for replacing filters.

One of the programme participants, Geraint Long, developed a new way to use performance data that provides an optimised 20-year rolling maintenance programme. The new approach to quality improvement is now spreading to other areas within Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water.

Working with Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water enabled us, again, to pursue our Public Value mission. Water Scarcity is a global challenge of huge importance and so it was greatly valuable to work with this not-for-profit organisation to help them become more innovative. The University has extensive links with Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water, and we are able to provide great placement opportunities and cutting-edge, collaborative research, again illustrating the extent to which we value our industrial collaborations. We will seek to nurture productive relationships within its executive education programmes.

I came away thinking differently about myself, my team and the entire organisation. Six months ago, I’d just have done my job, following a process – Now I enjoy change, take time to step back and remember to take people on the journey with me, thinking about how change impacts on them.

Delegate, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water

We have been delighted with the quality and impact of the Cardiff Business School programme. Expert faculty delivered a truly bespoke course with immediate and long-term benefits to Welsh Water – Motivated staff working on business innovations than can be transferred across our organisation.

Former Head of Talent, Dŵr Cymru Welsh Water

Contact us

If you would like to speak to us about how we could design and deliver a similar programme in collaboration with your organisation, please contact our friendly team for an initial informal discussion:

Continuing Professional Development Unit