Tameside woman scoops Future Water award for innovation

A young Tameside woman with a passion for emerging tech has clinched her second award in the traditionally male-dominated world of water engineering.

Laura Conroy, 30, of Denton, won Future Water Association’s 2020 Emerging Talent Award for helping United Utilities put some of the world’s most innovative ideas into real-world use.

Most recently, she helped scientists develop ultraviolet LEDs to help slash the energy cost of water treatment. The technology is now being installed for the first time ever at a water works in Cumbria.

For Laura, receiving the award was a ‘total shock’ as she had been secretly nominated by United Utilities, where she previously held the title Apprentice of the Year.

Her manager Kieran Brocklebank said Laura had been pivotal in turning United Utilities’ reputation for innovation from ‘sleeping giant’ to world-class, which was good news for the north west’s seven million consumers.

“Laura leads our Innovation Lab programme, which is a global hunt for new suppliers and we’ve found new ideas that have proven to be a real disruptor in the UK water industry – saving money for customers each time. Her passion for innovation, customer experience, the world of water and her own personal development sets her apart,” he said.

Laura said she enjoyed being at the forefront of technology and being able to deliver it in the real world.

“When I first came into United Utilities innovation team I was really focussed on bringing solutions to implementation quicker, this can be hard when there are many technical and commercial barriers to overcome. I help translate things to the outside world and get them over the line. It’s a great position to be in. I am constantly learning and able to use my experiences to develop others too. I love my job,” she said.