The Water Council has launched a $5 million seed capital fund that will increase access to capital for early stage water technology companies, according to the U.S. Economic Development Administration.
The Milwaukee-based Water Council, which operates the Global Water Center, on Monday announced it has received a $71,625 cluster grant to kick off the seed fund from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Regional Innovation Strategies program. The Water Council also agreed to contribute $81,625 in matching funds over the next two to three months with contributions, staff, marketing and other items to get the fund up and running, said Meghan Jensen, director of marketing and membership at The Water Council.
The Water Council is just beginning the fundraising process for The Wisconsin Water Cluster Seed Capital Fund, but is not yet ready to comment on what it will be used for, Jensen said. The Water Council also has not set a timeline on raising the $5 million.
“The EDA grant is going to help us stand up the fund,” she said. “We’ll be starting the fundraising process right now.”
The EDA described The Water Council’s seed fund as providing catalytic capital to companies working to bring innovative water technologies to market, and will be used to target the “capital gap between translational research and institutional venture capital.”
“We see this fund fitting in very well with the broader Water Council programming,” including its BREW seed accelerator program, a $500,000 innovation cluster grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration and a $225,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to connect water technology investors and entrepreneurs, Jensen said. “We’re interested in having co-investors with other angel groups from throughout Wisconsin.”
“This award from the U.S. Economic Development Administration confirms that southeast Wisconsin is the nation’s leading cluster for the development and commercialization of water technology. The launch of the Water Seed Fund will add the missing piece to the puzzle – technology, entrepreneurs, markets and now capital,” said Dean Amhaus, president and chief executive officer of The Water Council. “We are very pleased to be able to continue our work with the Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Administration.”
The Water Council, a nonprofit, was launched in 2009 and aims to connect the more than 150 water technology companies in the Milwaukee area with water entrepreneurs and academic researchers from around the world to cement Milwaukee as a world water hub.