ULTIMATE aims to create economic value and increase sustainability by valorising resources within the water cycle. Wastewater is not only a reusable resource but also a carrier for energy and components that can be extracted, treated, stored, and reused. Drawing on “Water Smart Industrial Symbiosis” (WSIS) we promote wastewater recycling in various industrial settings. We have selected nine large-scale demonstration cases from the four most important industrial sectors in Europe:

Agro-food processing


Heavy chemical / petrochemical

Biotech industry

Turning wastewater into a resource, we will

Recover, refine and reuse wastewater,

Extract and exploit energy

Extract and exploit materials

... contained in industrial wastewater.

ULTIMATE nurtures partnerships between business, water service providers, regulators and policy makers. We will actively support these stakeholders through immersive storytelling, using technology and art to set out shared visions for a more circular, profitable, socially responsible, and greener industry with water at its core.

We mobilise a strong partnership of industrial complexes and symbiosis clusters, leading water companies and water service providers, specialist SMEs, research institutes and water-industry networks. Our team builds on an impressive portfolio of past and ongoing research and innovation, leveraging multiple European and global networks to ensure real impact.

European Financing

We secured funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 869318 as part of the circular economy call CE-SC5-04-2019. The project runs from 1 June 2020 – 30 May 2024 (4 years) and is coordinated by KWR. An outline of project conditions is hosted on the CORDIS website.

Key activities

ULTIMATE isn’t about incremental improvements to water, resource, and energy efficiency in industries. It’s about demonstrating solutions for the whole value chain and about strengthening synergies between industries and water utilities.

Develop, optimize, and demonstrate Water-Smart Industrial Symbiosis technologies and solutions

Ensure the replicability and transferability of solutions

within a dynamically evolving socio-economic, technological, and political contexts, using novel models and tools to bridge the gap between technology optimisation and business development

Develop new exploitation and valorisation schemes

based on business models and services tailored to WSIS

Roll out novel governance approaches

and reduce barriers to recovery, reuse, and commercial exploitation of valuable water-related resources in industrial symbiosis

Promote active stakeholder engagement, innovation, co-creation, public awareness and vision setting

to accelerate socio-economic and business transformation towards a WSIS

Design and develop a communication platform

with tailored end-user interfaces

Invent new flexible business models for WSIS-oriented SMEs


ULTIMATE will explore the policy and regulatory frameworks in which the demo cases are embedded, identifying enabling and constraining factors for the uptake of innovations. We will focus on European policy and regulation, but we will also consider the impacts of national/regional legislation. To do this, we will conduct in depth interviews for each large-scale demonstration case, followed by a cross-case analysis to identify broader lessons and common factors. This will allow us to identify and describe the potential barriers and opportunities facing SMEs and start-ups with regard to Water-Smart Industrial Symbiosis.

ULTIMATE brings evidence-based impacts and benefits of WSIS to life for decision makers and influencers.