The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) and the Milwaukee-based Water Council today announced a seed accelerator program to assist water technology startup firms in Wisconsin.
The Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator program, which will be managed by The Water Council and funded by WEDC, will provide grants of $50,000 each to six water technology startups with commercialization potential.
During the six-month accelerator program, set to begin on Sept. 1, selected startups will receive: space in the International Water Technology Accelerator building in Milwaukee, business model and operations training through the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Institute for Water Business, access to faculty and students with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s (UWM) School for Freshwater Sciences, mentorship from dozens of area water technology experts, and access to investment capital funding sources.
International Water Technology Accelerator building, located in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood, is scheduled to open in July. The building features water flow and wet lab space, broadband, video conferencing, boardroom and meeting space, and an auditorium. Startups will have access to pilot sites with UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences and Milwaukee’s sewage and water operations, plus the ability to work with international water technology leaders at the center, including A. O. Smith, Badger Meter, Grundfos Pumps, Sloan Valve and Veolia Water.
“Our vision is to foster innovation by bringing together the most important water technology advances in the world, right here in Wisconsin,” said Gov. Scott Walker. “Through a combination of public and private support, we have the opportunity to shape our region into a global water hub where science and industry work together to address the world’s most pressing water-related challenges.”
The Water Council will select participants using multiple criteria, including commercialization potential, compatibility with existing companies, and long-term interest in growing in Milwaukee. Grants will fund startup costs, including lab supplies, research and product development expenses, and professional services.
“The seed accelerator program will bring global inventor-entrepreneurs to our Milwaukee water center, where they will find local expertise, resources and support to get their company started,” said Rich Meeusen, co-chair of The Water Council and chairman, president and chief executive officer of Brown Deer-based Badger Meter. “We expect that when they experience firsthand the value of locating in the global center of the industry, they will opt to permanently establish their company in Wisconsin.”
The Water Council is working with the International Water Association (IWA) to promote the program worldwide among qualified researchers and startups in the water technology industry. IWA will assist the Wisconsin team with prioritizing nominations and applications, and final candidates will be chosen by The Water Council.