Giving Water Innovation a LIFT

An Introduction to the Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology

Identifying new technologies is important to meeting demands of consumers and keeping up with the marketplace. The Water Environment & Reuse Foundation (WE&RF), in partnership with the Water Environment Federation (WEF), has developed the Leaders Innovation Forum for Technology (LIFT) to bring new water technology to the field quickly and efficiently. LIFT matches water and wastewater utilities, consulting firms and investors with technology innovators that can benefit the water industry.Print

The process of evaluating technologies through LIFT provides detailed information on each technology for all program participants. LIFT is designed to overcome barriers of implementation through integrating technological, social, and regulatory aspects that together make technology more accessible in the water quality sector and move innovation into practice.

LIFT addresses this challenge in four primary ways:

  • Technology Evaluation Program – Provides a means for utilities and industry end-users to evaluate and integrate new technologies and share the risk and cost of technology deployment.
  • People & Policy – Informs policy at the federal, state, and local level to remove barriers and facilitate adoption of new technologies.
  • Communication – provides education and outreach pertaining to new technologies.
  • Informal Forum for R&D Managers – Allows individuals responsible for technology identification and deployment to share their experiences, activities, and interests.

LIFT uses a two-pronged approach to innovation: technology pull and technology push. On the pull side, LIFT surveys WE&RF utility Subscribers to identify current and planned wastewater, drinking water, and stormwater technology testing and implementation, as well priority areas of need and interest. For example, Subscribers have identified several focus areas such as: Biosolids to Energy, Digestion Enhancement, Shortcut Nitrogen Removal, Phosphorus Recovery, Green Infrastructure, Water Reuse and Intelligent Water Systems. Members that have overlapping interests in these areas are presented with networking opportunities to share their experiences with technologies and to engage in measures to mitigate the risks of new technology deployment.

On the technology push side, LIFT Technology Scans search the marketplace for innovations and facilitate collaboration of testing, demonstration and implementation between technology providers and interested parties. It offers technology providers a platform to introduce their emerging, pre-commercial, and newly commercialized technologies. The Scan helps to appropriately match developing technologies and their providers with LIFT participants that can test and incorporate their technology into their operational structure. Innovators can submit an application to the program with information about their technology, and committees of experts conduct a basic technical review to screen applications and provide feedback.

Technology providers have the opportunity to share their latest developments with LIFT participants through Technology Scan forums and other events. WE&RF, in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DOE and NSF, are also developing a National Water Resource Recovery Test Bed Facility Network and Directory to connect researchers, new technology providers, and other innovators in the water resource recovery industry with test facilities appropriate for their needs. It is hoped that this network will assist in the developing and piloting of technology at various scales.

The resulting outcome is mutually beneficial for all LIFT participants. Subscribers have the opportunity to de-risk new technologies before implementation. They have the benefit of peer-to-peer exchanges to better understand how new technologies can be incorporated into their operations, as well as ways the technology can be improved to better suit their needs.

The information that is collected through Technology Scans and end user surveys will be shared through LIFT Link, a new online collaboration and innovation platform. LIFT Link provides access to the latest technologies and end user needs in order to benefit municipal and industrial facility owners, consulting firms, investors, and others. LIFT allows interested parties to make informed decisions regarding the readiness of application of new technologies and helps foster early adoption.

This article was contributed by the Water Environment Research Foundation, co-developer of the LIFT program along with the Water Environment & Reuse Foundation. Stay tuned for more updates on LIFT. For more information about LIFT, please contact Jeff Moeller.

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