Taking the water industry to new heights

More than $55 billion worth of business deals have been struck at the Singapore International Water Week over the past decade, making it the premier event for water-related business networking. Here’s a look at how it has boosted the global water and wastewater industry.

Delegates discuss the future of the water industry at Singapore International Water Week. Image: SIWW
Delegates discuss the future of the water industry at Singapore International Water Week. Image: SIWW

In 2014, engineering consultancy Black & Veatch made a splash at the Singapore International Water Week that year when it signed a contract to help oversee the development, engineering and construction of Singapore’s groundbreaking Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS).

“It was a significant announcement that was of interest to many stakeholders, contractors, government departments and utilities because they may also want to develop a centralised wastewater collection and treatment system in the future,” recalled William Yong, Black & Veatch Southeast Asia’s vice president and managing director.

“In fact, we generated some leads during the event and also met a private developer who was interested in studying the building of a desalination plant in Southeast Asia,” he added.

Over the past decade, more than $55 billion worth of business deals and opportunities have been announced at the SIWW, with the value of the projects awarded, tenders, investments and memoranda of understanding surging from $367 million at the first edition in 2008 to $18.7 billion at the latest, seventh one in 2016.

Water remains a key area for many governments and industries. They are continuously seeking cost-effective and sustainable solutions to their water problems.

Bernard Tan, managing director, Singapore International Water Week

The number of participating companies has also increased from 382 in 2008 to 1,028 in 2016, with the delegates coming from multinational corporations, small and medium enterprises as well as start-ups. More than 1,000 companies are slated to attend this year’s SIWW which will take place from July 8 to 12 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre.

“Our goal was to achieve the sort of synergies you can get only when the industry’s key players are in the same room and on the same page, and there is no doubt that the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) has achieved that,” said Bernard Tan, managing director of the SIWW.

“Water remains a key area for many governments and industries. They are continuously seeking cost-effective and sustainable solutions to their water problems, and they have found some of the answers at our event over the years,” he said.

Forging new partnerships

The SIWW, which was held yearly from 2008 to 2012, and is now held once every two years, gathers representatives from the global water industry to share best practices, showcase the latest technologies and tap business opportunities.

On the first day of the 2014 SIWW, the United States’ Nevada Water Centre of Excellence formalised an agreement with Israeli firm GreenVision Systems to expand the use of the latter’s imaging technologies to detect water pollution and monitor the environment. The centre has helped the firm to further its commercial research and test its products in US cities.

Ken Ladd, who was the centre’s interim director when the partnership was announced, said at the time: “This is exactly why we chose to attend the Singapore International Water Week. Engaging and supporting companies like GreenVision Systems is why our centre was created.”

Other companies from across the world have said that the SIWW gives them a platform to meet key figures in the water and wastewater industry, network with potential partners and learn more about business opportunities in different markets. The event includes a Water Expo trade exhibition, business forums, panel sessions, seminars and more.

In 2016, a record 51 British firms took part in the SIWW. Lila Thompson, international director of British Water, the trade association for the British water industry, said then: “This is one of the must-attend events.”

“The Singapore International Water Week keeps growing. Participants have the chance to meet some of the top international players and take part in seminars on a huge variety of subjects. Singapore is also home to many innovative water projects and delegates have the chance to familiarise themselves with some of the most high-profile ones,” she added.

At the first SIWW in 2008, Black & Veatch clinched $46 million worth of water projects in Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong. At the 2010 edition, Sembcorp Industries, a Singapore-based energy, water and marine company, signed a $280 million memorandum of understanding to expand the United Arab Emirates’ seawater desalination capacity. The opportunities for companies have only grown since then.

Making a splash

Governments and businesses are increasingly making their most significant water-related announcements at the SIWW to ensure that these reach the largest audience. During the 2016 SIWW, South Korea’s Ministry of Environment declared that it would invest $3.5 billion over the next 12 years to refurbish and build new water infrastructure in the country.

At the same event, PUB, Singapore’s national water agency, invited companies to bid for upcoming tenders for the design and construction of the DTSS Phase 2. It estimated the value of the projects at $6.5 billion. 

During the 2014 SIWW, Saudi Arabia’s Saline Water Conversion Corporation announced the construction of six desalination plants with a total capacity of more than 2.5 million cubic metres per day. These included the world’s largest reverse osmosis plant in the town of Rabigh. Municipalities and industrial parks in Indonesia, Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam shared more than $2 billion worth of business opportunities for water firms too.

To commemorate the SIWW’s 10 years of excellence this year, its organisers have planned additional networking opportunities for businesses. Activities will include a look at past and future water trends through an interactive word cloud that invites delegates to “co-create the future” of the water industry, wall displays that showcase technologies that have reshaped cities and communities, and sampling sessions of a beer made from NEWater, high grade reclaimed water.

Black & Veatch’s Yong urged companies to make the most of the event. He said: “It is a great opportunity to network with existing clients and partners, meet new ones, share ideas and explore opportunities, because you have water professionals from around the world gathered in one place.”

The 8th Singapore International Water Week will be held in conjunction with the 6th World Cities Summit and 4th CleanEnviro Summit Singapore from July 8 to 12 at the Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Centre. To register for the event, please click here.

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