Consortium creates Energy Innovation Center

An impressive collaboration of government, educational and business resources helped establish Milwaukee’s Global Water Center for freshwater research and technology.

Another new initiative will attempt to transform Milwaukee into a hub for innovation in the energy, power and control industries.

Plans for the new $9.6 million center, to be called the Energy Innovation Center, recently were announced by the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium, which is spearheading the creation of the center.

Seed capital totaling more than $900,000 has been provided by the state, broken down into grants exceeding $850,000 from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and a $50,000 grant from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.

The EIC will occupy 65,000 square feet in the Century City Tower, formerly the Eaton Corp. research building, with development being completed in two phases. The first phase, currently underway, is largely defined by the leasing of the space and the creation of a business plan and schedule. Also incorporated into phase one is the development of a lab for a technology infrastructure project.

Under phase two, M-WERC will finalize its planning processes, complete construction of two stages of the facility, complete labs, and appoint staff along with lab chairs and engineers.

M-WERC is a public/private partnership within the energy, power and control cluster that leads market and innovation research, workforce development, public policy and strategic collaboration.

Through the EIC, M-WERC aims to leverage the talents and capabilities of the energy, power and control cluster in Wisconsin and across the Midwest, a region that executive director and CEO Alan Perlstein describes as “the center of excellence” for the sector.

“There’s 900 companies in the state that have 100,000 employees with $30 billion in revenue and growth,” Perlstein said. “It truly is the center of excellence for energy, power and control, and it’s making a difference.”

Perlstein unveiled details of the EIC along with city and state leaders, including Gov. Scott Walker, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Marquette University President Michael Lovell, Ph.D., at the center’s home at 4201 N. 27th St. in Milwaukee.

The EIC will consist of 60 tenants ranging from startup companies to industry associations, academic researchers, private researchers and government energy initiatives. The space will also house economic development offices, workforce education programs, funding organizations and business support offices.

The center’s first two tenants are Alliance Federated Energy and the Manufacturing Diversity Institute. The EIC’s director, Jeffrey Anthony, will work to recruit additional tenants before the center holds its grand opening in September 2015.

Construction for the center will start this September, with a second phase of construction likely beginning in October 2015. M-WERC anticipates completing construction by mid-2016.

As the EIC helps maximize the region’s innovation potential in energy, power and control, it will also convert Milwaukee’s 30th St. Industrial Corridor and neighborhood into “a modern economic hub with thriving businesses and residential areas,” Barrett said.

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