Milwaukee to open Energy Innovation Center

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:20 pm

Following the successful development of the Global Water Center, home to innovation driven by Milwaukee’s water cluster, the city is gaining a similar center focused on advancements in the energy, power and control industry.

Plans for the new $9.6 million center, to be called the Energy Innovation Center, were announced Friday morning 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 city and state leaders, including Gov. Scott Walker, Mayor Tom Barrett and Marquette President Michael Lovell, Ph.D., at the center’s home in the Century City Tower, 4201 N. 27th St. in Milwaukee.

“(The EIC is) a collaborative process between academic institutions, industry, government and non-government partners to grow the space – to grow energy, power and control; to accelerate new products; to do prototyping and commercialization; and to go make a difference,” Perlstein said.

The EIC will consist of 60 tenants ranging from startup up 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.

“Just as the Global Water Center has put Milwaukee and Wisconsin on the map when it comes to water technology, we believe the Energy Innovation Center has the same potential for the energy, power and control sector,” Walker said in a statement released by M-WERC. “Southeastern Wisconsin already is home to some world-leading companies and research universities in the sector. This is an opportunity to harness that innovation all in one place.”

Last year, the City of Milwaukee backed energy-saving upgrades made to the building with a $122,000 grant under the Milwaukee Energy Efficiency Program.

Remaining funds needed to operate the EIC will come from M-WERC and its members, anticipated federal grants and private investors, according to Joshua Morby, M-WERC spokesman.

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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