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Challenge UKWIR Challenge: Detecting the Build-up of Blockages in Complex Fluid Networks
UKWIR Challenge: Detecting the Build-up of Blockages in Complex Fluid Networks
STATUS: Awarded
Active Solvers: 269
Posted: Apr 29 2015
Challenge ID: 9933751
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The United Kingdom Water Industry Research (UKWIR) is seeking innovative solutions to detect the formation of blockages on the networks which can result in spillages from sewers that lead to troublesome property flooding and to contamination of waterways. 

The problem boils down to the ability to detect at early stages the formation of blockages in the complex fluid network that makes up the sewer system. Hence, UKWIR is seeking innovative solutions to monitor the sewer network and detect the formation of such blockages at early stages. 

Can you help us stopping the blockages which can lead to flooding? 

This is an Ideation Challenge with a guaranteed award for at least one submitted solution.


Sewerage networks have been provided over the last 150 years or so to ensure that sewage is safely removed from houses and industry and taken for adequate treatment. There are some 500,000 kilometers or sewers and drains in the UK alone, enough to go round the World over twelve times. 

Debris and waste from houses and industry can start building-up in the network and when combined with other factors (dry periods or deterioration of pipes) blockages are formed that frequently result in surcharging which can give rise to:

  • Spillages into the ground, potentially causing pollution of waterways and environmental impacts, or
  • Sewage escaping from the system, emerging at ground level and resulting in flooding

Flooding of properties is particularly distressing for those affected and has high costs to resolve. 

Hence, the Seeker for this Challenge is looking for novel methods that allow to monitor the formation of blockages in sewer networks in order to prevent spillages. 

This is an Ideation Challenge, which has the following unique features:

  • There is a guaranteed award.  The awards will be paid to the best submission(s) as solely determined by the Seeker. The total payout will be $15,000, with at least one award being no smaller than $7,500 and no award being smaller than $2,500.
  • Submission forwarding occurs during the Challenge.  Since submissions will be forwarded to the Seeker throughout the Challenge, please make sure you upload only a finished proposal. You can submit an updated version of your proposal only as a new submission. If you submit an updated version of your proposal, please clearly indicate the new items and/or edits compared to your previous submission. This will allow the Seeker to quickly find the new information and determine how it improves your submission.
  • The Solvers are not required to transfer exclusive intellectual property rights to the Seeker.  Rather, by submitting a proposal, the Solvers grants to the Seeker a royalty-free, perpetual, and non-exclusive license to use any information included in this proposal.

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on June 11, 2015.  Late submissions will not be considered.  

After the Challenge deadline, the Seeker will complete the review process and make a decision with regards to the Winning Solution(s). All Solvers that submitted a proposal will be notified on the status of their submissions; however, no detailed evaluation of individual submissions will be provided.


The UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR) was set up by the UK water industry in 1993 to provide a framework for the procurement of a common research programme for UK water operators on 'one voice' issues. UKWIR's members comprise 21 water and sewerage undertakers in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Over the last 15 years, UKWIR subscribers have contributed some £50m with a further £30m of research coming from UKWIR collaborators, resulting in over 750 reports delivered to members. Work is often carried out in collaboration with government departments and regulators including the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; the Drinking Water Inspectorate and the Environment Agency. Some work is also done in collaboration with research organisations internationally.

What is InnoCentive?
InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is an InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge?

An InnoCentive Ideation™ Challenge is a broad question formulated to obtain access to new ideas, similar to a global brainstorm for producing a breakthrough idea or market survey which may include ideas for a new product line, a new commercial application for a current product, or even a viral marketing idea to recruit new customers. Ideation™ Challenge submissions are typically about two written pages, and Seekers receive a non-exclusive, perpetual license to use all submissions.

In an Ideation™ Challenge, Solvers may:

  • Submit ideas of their own
  • Submit third party information that they have the right to use and further the authority to convey that right and the right to use and develop derivative works to Seekers
  • Submit information considered in the public domain without any limitations on use

Solvers should not reveal any confidential information in their submissions. Often the Ideation™ Challenge will be followed by one or more of the other three Challenge types to further develop the ideas and gain Intellectual Property protection when the concept has been well-defined.

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