Gloucestershire-based Artesia has developed a pioneering AI-based analysis system to help water companies identify leaks and predict demand more effectively. Innovate UK EDGE has helped it to establish new processes, secure its IP and find suitable funding to underpin its growth.
“The UK’s water supply is currently threatened by population growth, climate change, increasing household and industrial demand and underground leaks,” says Rob Lawson, Director, Artesia.
According to the Public Accounts Committee, around one-fifth of all water that’s taken from the environment is lost to leakage; a proportion which has not decreased in the past 20 years.
“The UK has over 400,000 kms of water mains – enough to stretch to the moon – with a lot of it dating back 50-60 years and some even to the Victorian era. The thousands of joints and valves that connect these mains are all susceptible to ground movement, freezing, thawing and ultimately leaks.”
“However, the water industry and government both recognise that a 20% leakage rate is unacceptable, and that there’s a need to mitigate rising demand going forward – that’s what keeps Artesia busy.”
Artesia’s cloud-based platform gathers data from water mains every five minutes and uses AI to identify unusual patterns that could suggest a leak.
Unlike traditional systems that trigger alarms when flow or pressure reaches pre-set threshold levels, Artesia’s self-learning algorithms dynamically adapt to evolving circumstances, taking factors such as seasonal changes into account.
Once a fault has been detected, the system alerts the control room team at the water company, which can then take action to manage the leak.
Artesia also works with water regulators, such as Ofwat, using sophisticated demand modelling to analyse factors that could reduce future water demand.
“We found that it is feasible to halve the water demand from households in the UK by 2065, given the right combination of technology, regulation and behaviour change. This is ambitious but could be delivered with the right collaboration between stakeholders, greater awareness of water scarcity issues in the UK, and greater leadership in this field.”
Growth support from Innovate UK EDGE
In April 2020, Artesia began work with Paul Albone, an Innovate UK EDGE expert on lean process development and business systemisation.
“We’ve recently been transitioning from a very small business of six people to a team of more than 20, which is quite a step change. Paul’s help in establishing new processes and structures has been invaluable,” says Rob.
Artesia produced an early draft of an Objective, Goals, Strategies, and Measures (OGSM) framework, and presented it to Paul who provided constructive feedback.
“Paul was able to reassure us that we were on the right track, suggest tweaks, and help us start to roll the strategy out across the business.
“We’ve developed our overall business objective, the goals we want to achieve and the strategies we will use to achieve these outcomes. The new initiatives already underway range from implementing new line management systems, to improving how we deliver projects and make decisions day-to-day.
“We think these improvements reflect the culture and values that we have as a company – and it’s all a result of the impetus we got from Paul and Innovate UK EDGE.”
IP support via an IP Audit
Artesia next completed an IP Audit, supported by Innovate UK EDGE and a grant from the Intellectual Property Office.
“When it comes to IP, it can be difficult to know where to begin,” says Rob. “The IP Audit really helped us understand what needed protecting, how to protect it, and what could be put to one side. It really grounded us in the key things we needed to do.”
“We now have a good understanding of how to protect our key algorithms, and a much better understanding of what we can talk about publicly at events and conferences.”
Funding support to identify the most suitable grants
Innovate UK EDGE Access to Funding and Finance Specialist, Susie Williams, next stepped in to help navigate Artesia’s grant funding landscape.
“Susie did a brilliant job of narrowing down the funding routes available to us, recommending a research fund from Ofwat.”
“We already knew about the Ofwat fund but Susie confirmed that it would provide us with the best chance of success.”
Artesia’s growth trajectory
Artesia aims to accelerate its growth over the next five years, doubling its team to 40 people.
“We have a lot of ideas for how to manage that growth, and for me, it’s been great to discuss them regularly with my Innovation and Growth Specialist, Marc Rambaud, and get that external validation and additional insight.”
“Together, Paul, Susie and Marc have given us the sort of clarity of thought and bespoke guidance that you simply can’t get from a book or website. They really have been catalysts for change.”
Innovate UK EDGE will continue to support as this Gloucestershire-based innovator enters its next growth phase and sets its sights on international expansion.