The Water Council, partner organizations awarded $1 million to address water and energy resiliency

Dean Amhaus

The Water Council is taking the next steps to help create a regional innovation engine here in eastern Wisconsin focused on climate issues. The nonprofit, along with several partnering organizations, announced this week it has been awarded $1 million from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to plan a regional innovation engine that will address water and energy resilience for manufacturers and utilities.

The goal of the NSF Engines program is to harness the nation’s science and technology research and development enterprise and regional-level resources. The approved regional innovation engines will help build resiliency around manufacturing and utilities. The program seeks to address climate issues and how manufacturers and utilities can deal with water and energy related issues in all the aspects of their operations.

The Water Council applied for the two-year grant with its lead partners: Milwaukee Tech Hub Coalition, Wisconsin Technology Council, Marquette University, Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing and Productivity, and Madison Region Economic Partnership.

“We know businesses and communities are desperately in need of solutions to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. With its strong water and energy solution companies and leading research universities, Wisconsin is uniquely positioned to provide those solutions,” said Dean Amhaus, president and chief executive officer of The Water Council. “This Resiliency Engine could be a true game-changer in terms of local economic development and assisting companies here, across the U.S. and globally adapt to the realities of climate change and the growing nexus of water and energy challenges.”

Last summer, Amhaus first shared the organization had applied to take part in the NSF program. In addition to Milwaukee, the Fox Valley, Green Bay and Madison will be a part of the regional innovation engine. These areas already house necessary resources such as research universities, energy and water technology companies, and manufacturers.

“Working with water is imbedded in Wisconsin’s DNA,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “Those same roots run deep in manufacturing and its relationship to energy and water use. The nexus of the three will result in innovation that can address climate change, confront rising energy prices, create efficiencies and encourage private investment.”

After two years, the organizations working to create this regional innovation engine will apply for a Launch Award of up to $160 million over ten years.

“Our times demand strong domestic supply chains for both national and economic security,” said Buckley Brinkman, executive director and CEO of the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing and Productivity. “This NSF Innovation Engine will provide unique perspectives vital to making our supply chains more resilient – especially in the critical areas of water and energy.”

Ashley covers startups, technology and manufacturing for BizTimes. She was previously the managing editor of the News Graphic and Washington County Daily News. In past reporting roles, covering education at The Waukesha Freeman, she received several WNA awards. She is a UWM graduate. In her free time, Ashley enjoys watching independent films, tackling a new recipe in the kitchen and reading a good book.

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