West Yorkshire business joins forces with university to revolutionise water monitoring

Jul 11, 2023

Leeds Beckett University has joined forces with Aquatrust Water and Ventilation Limited on an innovative new project to create a bespoke remote system to monitor water for Legionella bacteria.

Aquatrust are a water hygiene and treatment business employing around 40 staff, based in Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire. They will work with academic experts in water quality, robotics, and artificial intelligence at Leeds Beckett on a 32-month Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme, part-funded by the Government through Innovate UK.

Aquatrust are experts in the field of water hygiene, water treatment, water regulations and Legionella control. They currently provide on the ground services to local authorities, housing associations, the care sector, schools, and the private sector across the UK. Reducing Legionella is the responsibility of every building owner and manager and Aquatrust are a key part of the process that mitigates risk against this potentially fatal form of pneumonia.

Dr Martin Pritchard, Reader in the School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing and project lead, said: “Aquatrust are a visionary business who want to revolutionise the current industry practice of on-site measurement services to clients.

“Through the KTP, we will create a novel remote management capability to enable Aquatrust to remotely monitor conditions to prevent the formation of Legionella in water pipework systems – but with the opportunity to expand into other monitoring areas. Using their own bespoke hardware monitor devices and integrated software, they will be able to report and analyse results and proactively mitigate risk for clients. This remote solution will be more cost-effective, less labour intensive, and far better for the environment.”

As part of the KTP, new skills and capabilities will be introduced into Aquatrust, including hardware and software development and transitioning colleagues from on-site monitoring roles to more consultancy-led opportunities.

Dr David Love, Course Director for Electronics and Robotics Engineering in the School of Built Environment, Engineering and Computing, said: “Importantly, all current Aquatrust staff will be retained and will be upskilled. Supporting life-long learning is at the heart of what we do at Leeds Beckett University and this is a great example of a local company investing in the long-term skills of its staff as new technologies change the way an established business works.”

The KTP aims to create a new, more sustainable business model for Aquatrust, where they become a solutions provider as well as a service provider, developing their own in-house products and services.

Paul Kenny, Sales Director at Aquatrust, said: “I’ve been enthusiastic about introducing new innovations and improvements within the business for some time – for example, I’ve been introducing Internet of Things remote solutions for our compliance checks on water systems, and have been setting up a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to help support our sales team to be more dynamic.

“I took part in the Help to Grow: Management programme delivered by Leeds Beckett last year. This really supported me with the ideas and know-how to improve the business further and develop my skills as a director. I was also connected to the KTP team and academic experts in our field through taking part in the programme.”

Dr Pritchard has more than 20 years of experience working in water quality in industry and academia. His research includes the application and monitoring of novel water purification systems for developing countries.

Jo Griffiths, Head of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships at Leeds Beckett University, added: “There is high demand for innovation in this field and this project directly aligns to the UK government’s agenda to foster a robust economy, boost innovation and productivity and for levelling up regional economies.”

The KTP will begin with the recruitment of a full-time KTP Associate, who will be an experienced graduate, and will be embedded as a full-time member of staff at Aquatrust for the duration of the project. The Associate will lead the project, with the full support and input from the academic team at Leeds Beckett.

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