Notes from Piers, no 176 – Our Meghan Markle Moment

Piers Clark talks about being the bridesmaid and never the bride.

Last night in Birmingham, UK, the 2018 Annual Water Industry Awards were held. Now in their 12th year and organized by WWT, they mark the beginning of Utility Week Live. It was a big swanky event; posh food, black ties, loud music….you get the picture. After years of never quite making it onto the podium, last night Isle walked away with our first ever award. After years of being the bridesmaid, we finally became the bride.

We won in the category of ‘Sludge and Resource Recovery’. If this were the Oscars it would probably rank alongside the Oscar for Best Lighting but I am not complaining. An Oscar winner is an Oscar winner, whether they are Best Director or something a little more obscure. The same logic applies here. We are a winner. At last.

What made our win all the more glorious was that our entry was for the INCOVER project. INCOVER is a collaborative project funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 programme. It has developed innovative and sustainable technologies for resource recovery, working at demonstration (as opposed to laboratory) scale. It is an awesome project (see It has involved testing at scale a wide range of ground breaking sustainable technologies, from hydrothermal carbonization (to generate household fuel from sludge) to algal farms for bioplastics. It was a worthy winner, even if I say so myself.

If Isle was the bride then the groom has to be our fellow European partners. There are (at least) 18 different organisations from across the EU involved in INCOVER, from big utilities to small tech firms, from consultancies to universities. INCOVER is an example of the EU working at its best. As the UK continues on its determined path towards exiting the EU, in all likelihood crashing out without any deal, it is nice to remind ourselves that not everything about the EU was broken. Collaborative, smooth running partnerships do exist. Like-minded, civilised organisations from across Europe are able to work together harmoniously. Who would have thought?

My role was that of father of the bride. I had next to no direct involvement in the award winning project yet, unlike Meghan’s dad, I dug deep and found within myself the ability to take some of the glory from last night. After all, it has taken 8 years for Isle to make it onto the winners podium. It might never happen again.

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And the winner is… Isle Utilities and Aimen (representing the entire INCOVER project consortium)!