Knowledge management model for solving practical problems

The IWA World Water Congress in Lisbon 2014 has a new principal sponsor: Watershare®, the global collaboration platform for highly reputable knowledge institutes in the public water sector. Watershare® revolves around real sharing: offering and receiving knowledge. Knowledge institutes working in the field of drinking water and wastewater apply each other’s high-quality Watershare® tools – endorsed by end-users and science – to resolve the practical problems faced by their end-users. Wim van Vierssen, the CEO of KWR Watercycle Research Institute, is on the lookout both within and outside Europe for partners who would like to become Watershare® members.

Watershare® was launched in the autumn of 2012 at the IWA World Water Congress in the South Korean city of Busan. The first institutes to join Watershare® were the Belgian research organisation Vito, the Swedish Svensk Vatten, the German KompetenzZentrum Wasser Berlin, KIST from South Korea, and Naturalis from the Netherlands. Watershare® is currently engaged in talks with organisations in Greece, Portugal, Hungary, England, Singapore and South Africa. “The Watershare® concept has a strong appeal,” says Van Vierssen. “We offer a differentiated fees model, so that the knowledge partners can gradually evolve into full membership.”

Members only contribute their best knowledge tools to Watershare®. At the moment, the Watershare® Suite ( comprises 23 tools, including many software products from founding partner KWR. The first tool to be contributed by Vito is currently being prepared. “We have to be able to guarantee the quality of the tools we offer,” says Van Vierssen. “Only those knowledge products that have been studied in international scientific literature and have a practical application reference are included. Drinking water is an extremely sensitive product, one which has to meet the highest quality standards. Our expert colleagues at Watershare® member institutes can always be confident that they’re offered a selection of the very best, validated products available on the market.”

The best products prevail

“The decision to only include the best products means that, over time, a number of KWR tools will be replaced by better performing equivalent products from other Watershare® members,” says Wim van Vierssen. “Indeed, I’m pretty sure that some KWR products will be dropped. I am fully aware that we at KWR don’t always have the best solutions in-house. Naturally, I hope and expect that Watershare® will maintain a strong Dutch imprint, but, from the perspective of the interests of citizens in and outside of Europe, this is hardly the most important consideration. People the world over have the right to the best available knowledge. There is no room for national sentiment.”

Watershare® is actively seeking members with knowledge in the field of wastewater who could contribute wastewater-related tools to the Watershare® Suite. “Since the wastewater cycle is often more integrated abroad than it is in the Netherlands, we hope to attract members who already have institutionalised this cycle-thinking”, says Gertjan Zwolsman, Watershare® Programme Director. Zwolsman is on the lookout for new members in Europe. “Collaborating with other members and the application by their end-users of Watershare® tools makes Watershare® an inspiring knowledge management model.”