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.

IWA Project Innovation Awards Celebration – Tokyo, Japan 2018

Monday 17 September 2018.

Cocktail reception 6:30 pm

Gala dinner 7:30 pm

Dress code: Cocktail attire

The 2018 Project Innovation Awards was 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 attracted over 9,000 international water experts.


An inspiring evening that celebrated those water professionals expanding the boundaries of excellence in the sector. The awards night gathered the teams behind the winning projects, world-renowned experts across the fields of water management, science and practice, and the stories of the winning projects and innovations. 

Check the 2018 winners!

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.

The IWA Project Innovation Award criteria

How the nomination process works

The first round of nominations for the Project Innovation Awards is open until 9 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 16 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 until 11 June 2018.

Shortlisted medalists will be informed by 1 July 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 9 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 16 April 2018.

2. Full submission (deadline 11 June 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

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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