A novel approach to funding technology trials accelerates the water industry toward net zero


Image courtesy Isle Utilities

Commercial approach(es.) used to catalyse investment: Adoption of an innovative partnership / risk sharing model. Integration into project preparation process 

Technology approach(es) used to catalyse investment: Before each trial, Isle Utilities work with end-user and technology vendor to identify a suitable trial location and format. We undertake due diligence of the technology, vendor, and end-user. Working with end-user and vendor we design a robust, credible trial.

Finance approach(es) used to catalyse investment: A new fund / investment platform. Innovative financing instrument: Loans for trials which remove the exposure from the technology developer and technology user.

Key benefits: 

  • Climate mitigation 
  • Enhanced social inclusion 
  • Improved infrastructure delivery and performance 
  • Capex efficiency 
  • Opex efficiency 

Scale of deployment: 

Supporting 10+ trials/year to implementation, achieve a success rate of 6/10 trials and 70% by amount invested, to reduce pilot-to-implementation time by 80%, and alleviate 120,000 tons of carbon emissions per year (equivalent to 30,000 people's worth of emissions)

Project value: 

USD1.5 million per year

Project start/end dates: 

November 2021–ongoing 

Current status of the project: 


The Trial Reservoir by Isle Utilities is a new and unique partnership model that brings technology users and innovators together. It provides loans for trial running costs, and conditions the loans such that a trial and purchase agreement between innovator and user must be in place prior to the trial, which guarantees implementation if the trial is successful. If the trial is not successful, then the loan is written off. To lower the number of trials required to bring an innovation to market, Isle Utilities organises joint marketing campaigns with both the technology vendor and the end-user after the successful conclusion of trials.

Trial reservoir project milestsones

Image courtesy Isle Utilities, iVapps, Advantageous Systems, eWATERservices

With another ~80 technologies close behind, three of the first to commence are: 

  • eWATERservices drinking water collection, treatment, supply, and e-wallet billing/metering system in Gambia
  • iVAPPS reusable combined inline sensors and isolation valves for supply networks (trialling with Agbar in Spain)
  • The Transcend Design Generator (TDG), trialling in Australia, China, and India, allows users to create custom preliminary designs for wastewater treatment facilities from just a few key project-specific inputs.


The Trial Reservoir approach to technology trials has universal potential globally to increase and accelerate uptake of clean technologies. While this approach to trial funding has not yet been replicated, Isle Utilities are in advanced talks with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) regarding a Latin American-specific project, funded by the IDB.

Trial reservoir project map

Image courtesy Isle Utilities

Challenges experienced/overcome in implementation

Technology end-users are not accustomed to taking new technologies on probation with up-front intent to implement them. This has proven to be an obstacle commanding that Isle Utilities work on changing the mindset of users. The Trial Reservoir provides technology companies with risk-free access to trial funding.

Other approaches that enabled investment


The shift from agreements for trials followed by separate agreements for implementation (with an 8–20 month delay in between) to a single Trial and Purchase Agreement. The agreement contains the success criteria for the trial as well as the post-trial commercial commitment under the most appropriate business model on a case-by-case basis. The technology vendor and end-user have to sign off on the success criteria and post-trial commitment before we lend any money and before the trial begins.


Loans for trials remove the exposure from the technology developer and technology user. The Trial Reservoir provides money that only has to be repaid if the trial is a success, measured using success criteria agreed upon by both parties (developer and end-user) prior to trialling.


Note: This case study and all information within was submitted by Isle Utilities in response to our global call for InfraTech case studies.

Last Updated: 21 October 2022