IWA Project Innovation Awards

Awarded biennially at the IWA World Water Congress, the Project Innovation Awards recognise and promote excellence and innovation in water management, research and technology. Now in their 12th year, the awards are presented at a prestigious gala event in front of an audience of water leaders from around the world.

Water underpins every aspect of human and environmental existence. The severe water challenges facing the world today require an unprecedented global response. Innovation plays a central role in achieving IWA’s vision of a world in which water is managed wisely to satisfy the needs of human activities and ecosystems in an equitable and sustainable way.

The Project Innovation Awards recognize that our shared challenges can be overcome through the development and implementation of creative water solutions.

Key Dates

2 April

Preliminary Submission

9 April

Review panel

28 May

Full submission

17 September

Awards Gala

Award categories

There are six Project Innovation Awards; each category celebrates excellence in a specific field within the water sector. An esteemed panel of experts will assess submissions from each category. The winner in each category will be awarded a gold medal, and two runners-up will receive silver and bronze medals.

Winning projects

Gold, bronze and silver medals will be awarded for each project category. The gold medal winners will automatically advance to the global awards round to compete for the Kiran and Pallavi Patel Grand Innovation Award 2018.

The Kiran and Pallavi Patel Grand Innovation Award 2018

Celebrating and recognising groundbreaking innovations and achievements in the water industry worldwide, the coveted Kiran and Pallavi Patel Grand Innovation Award 2018 is presented to an outstanding example of innovation in the water sector.

An expert panel of judges will select the winner of the Kiran and Pallavi Patel Grand Innovation Award 2018 from amongst the six gold medal winners of the Project Innovation Awards.

1. Market-changing Water Technology & Infrastructure

This award celebrates innovations in water & wastewater technologies and infrastructure, which embrace forward-thinking applications and solutions to advance clean and safe water goals. These solutions can range from specific technologies to innovative approaches.

2. Performance Improvement and Operational Solutions

Original thinking is essential for overcoming long-term challenges and delivering solutions for the future. This award celebrates new and innovative approaches that improve performance, efficiency, resilience and sustainability in water operations and maintenance.

3. Breakthroughs in Research and Development

Research is the powerhouse of disruptive and breakthrough innovation. This award celebrates research that is challenging existing markets and addressing future needs to create new opportunities. It is open to research of all types, as well as early stage business projects that are not yet market-ready.

4. Exceptional Project Execution and Delivery

Innovation in the execution of water projects is critical for the sector. This award celebrates projects that developed and implemented: creative practices during their execution; excellent client relationships beyond expectations; outstanding responses to unexpected difficulties.

5. Governance, Institutions and Social Enterprise

This award celebrates social innovation, social enterprise and social entrepreneurship and their contribution to sustainable water management. In addition, it recognizes innovations in governance and institutional transitions and the role this plays in supporting the circular and digital water economies.

6. Smart Systems and the Digital Water Economy

This award celebrates digital solutions with the potential to reshape the water sector. Harnessing and aligning this technology between the physical and digital worlds, creates a smarter way of managing and protecting water resources and building a water-wise society.

IWA Project Innovation Awards Celebration – Tokyo, Japan 2018

The 2018 Project Innovation Awards will be celebrated on Monday 17 September 2018 at a prestigious gala event in Tokyo, in front of an audience of water leaders from around the world. The gala event is held on the first night of the IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition, a unique water event that attracts over 5,000 international water experts.

An inspiring evening will celebrate those water professionals expanding the boundaries of excellence in the sector. The awards night will be a place where you can meet the teams behind the winning projects, network with world-renowned experts across the fields of water management, science and practice, and hear the stories of the winning projects and innovations. This is a night to be energized and inspired at a beautiful venue in one of the world’s most dynamic cities, Tokyo.

Time and date: Monday 17 September 2018. Doors open 6:30 pm; Gala starts 7:30 pm.

Dress code: Cocktail attire

Could you be the next IWA awardee?

Have you been part of a team working on an inspiring, innovative and impactful water project? Has your organisation collaborated on or led a project that has had a significant, positive and demonstrable impact? Then you could be our next Project Innovation Award winner!


Submit your nomination: iwa.awardsplatform.com

How the nomination process works

The first round of nominations for the Project Innovation Awards is open until 2 April 2018. Nominations are open to everyone. All applications are made on a confidential basis.

Nominations must be submitted via IWA’s dedicated awards platform at iwa.awardsplatform.com.

First-round submissions will comprise a short project summary, based on applicants’ answers to three key questions. A review panel will assess all submissions by 9 April 2018, and will notify applicants of whether or not they have successfully progressed to the second round.

Second-round submissions require a more detailed project description, along with supporting documentation and images. Submissions for this round are open from 10 April to 28 May 2018.

Shortlisted medalists will be informed by 11 June 2018.

Category winners and the Kiran and Pallavi Patel Grand Innovation Award winner will be announced at the Project Innovation Awards Celebration during the IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan on 17 September 2018.

Judging criteria


In every category we are looking for original, innovative projects that provide long-term value to the water sector. Successful submissions should demonstrate the complexity of the problem or situation and performance against budgetary and timeframe constraints.


In addition to these general indicators, specific criteria will apply to each category. This will be published when the first round of submissions is completed.


The PIAs are open to applications from individuals, companies, organizations, public bodies or any combination of the above. Applicants do not have to be members of IWA.

How to apply

Submissions must be made online via the dedicated IWA Awards portal at iwa.awardsplatform.com.

Your application should include the following:

1. Preliminary Submission (deadline 2 April 2018)

a. Name and contact details of the entrants and/or organisation submitting the project.

b. Short summary of the project (maximum 450 words)

A review panel will assess all preliminary submissions, and advise all applicants on whether their submission has been accepted to the full submission stage by 9 April 2018.

2. Full submission (deadline 28 May 2018)

a. Project description of maximum 1,200 words containing the following information:

– The context in which the project was devised;

– The project objective(s);

– The project budget;

– The project strategy;

– The project implementation;

The outcome and results achieved by the project.

b. Up to five high quality images that best illustrate the project. These will aid in the judging process and will be displayed on the IWA Awards webpage if your project is shortlisted for an award.

c. Up to three supporting documents to highlight the key aspects of your project. This could include planning documents, press releases, presentations, media packs or any other material that would help our jury to assess the project.

d. Up to three links to relevant websites, social media platforms or other online resources.

e. A minimum of two testimonial letters

Call for judges

IWA is currently seeking judges for the 2018 Project Innovation Awards.

We’re looking for experienced water professionals with a passion for innovation to join the 2018 Project Innovation Awards Jury.

Becoming a judge is a fantastic opportunity to get an insider’s perspective on some of the leading projects in the water sector. You’ll get a unique insight into the best of the field – cutting edge innovations that are advancing the art and science of water management. By getting involved with the sector’s leading awards programme, you’ll also extend your network and gain global recognition as a leader and influencer.

PIA Judges

Achieve recognition as water industry leaders

Network with the sector’s top innovators

Gain insights into cutting-edge projects

Contribute to excellence in water management by selecting and recognising the best project innovations


Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to become a judge?

The Jury is open to current or retired professionals with experience of the water sector

Do I need to be an IWA member?

Judges do not need to be IWA members.

Will I receive recognition?

Yes! Your name will be displayed in promotional material for the 2018 PIAs, including on the IWA website and in the awards night programme.

How long does the judging process take?

The length of the judging process will depend on the number of applications per award category.

Is there any travel involved?

Judging will take place exclusively online. No travel will be necessary.

Can I judge more than one category?

You are welcome to apply as a judge for more than one category.

Register your interest by sending your CV and a brief overview of your expertise and background.
Include which category (or categories) you wish to judge, and why.

Applicants will be notified of their selection status by email.

2016 IWA Project Innovation Awards

On 12 October 2016, water professionals from across the globe came together to celebrate outstanding water innovators at the Rydges South Bank in Brisbane, Australia, for the tenth anniversary edition of the IWA Project Innovation Awards.

The 2016 PIA Grand Award was awarded to Rand Water for their project “Let’s be Water Wise”. 

Click here to find out more about Rand Water’s project and the other 2016 award-winners.

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