Why Water? Why Here? Why Now?
The essential role of water in shaping the world’s civilizations past and present is readily apparent. Looking forward, water will take center stage. The world’s economy will reorganize itself and water will be a crucial pivot point as the forces of global economic growth continue to collide with the forces of global resource scarcity. Those places that lead in innovating new water technologies – and master the complex blend of expertise needed to efficiently clean, store, process, distribute, and use water – will have the foundations to gain strong positions in the global economy.
About the Water Council
Created by leaders in both business and education, The Water Council is convening the world’s existing water companies and research clusters, developing education programs to train talent, and building partnerships that cut across all sectors and geographic boundaries. From its very beginning in 2009, The Water Council has been a private-sector driven economic development organization that arose through the leadership of corporate citizens dedicated to supporting water technology business growth in Southeast Wisconsin. Along with city and regional economic development officials, these leaders recognized Milwaukee’s unique assets in the water industry sector and became believers in the idea that water could be an economic growth engine for the region and the state.
Today The Water Council is on the cusp of elevating the Milwaukee, Wisconsin water cluster to the next level and has the opportunity to not only be a powerful force of business and economic development, but an agent of global change that can help improve the human condition around the world.
“A rising tide lifts all boats” (According to an old saying made famous by John F. Kennedy)
The Water Council experienced dynamic expansion in 2014 as the tide definitely began to rise. The Office of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker reported a 7.4% increase in exports of water technology-related products, demonstrating a growing water economy in the state. At the same time The Water Council positioned the organization for future growth by setting in motion a new Leadership Strategic Vision, providing a framework for the growing and changing opportunities, roles, and responsibilities as the Epicenter of the Global Water Industry.
An Inspirational Ecosystem
The Global Water Center is a state-of-the-art water business and research accelerator located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the heart of the most densely populated water-technology business cluster in the United States. The Center houses water-centric research facilities for universities, existing water-related companies and accelerator space for new, emerging water technology companies. In 2014, the building neared capacity and continued to be a magnet for foreign dignitaries, water technology businesses, economic development organizations and students from all levels.
New Developments in 2015: Increasing the ripples of discovery and progress
Center of Excellence for Water Innovation & Small Business Development
The U.S. Small Business Administration awarded The Water Council one of four Regional Innovation Cluster contracts for FY2014. Under the SBA contract, The Council created a Center of Excellence (CoE) for Water Innovation & Small Business Development to promote the growth and development of small and medium-sized businesses operating in the water technology sector across the United States. The CoE is officially open, providing small business services including technology transfer, export training, matchmaking, connections to capital, and mentorship.
Matching Capital with Water Innovation
The Water Council was selected as one of 10 participants in the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Small Business Forward program, a national, five-year $30 million grant program designed to boost small business support networks that help growing enterprises in specific industries. This partnership will match the investment community with water technology entrepreneurs in order to increase the amount of capital in water innovation. The Water Council will launch their first-ever Water Investment Conference in 2015.
Green Meets Blue at Water Technology Business Park
Reed Street Yards (RSY) is one of Wisconsin’s first Eco-Industrial Parks, a concept that seeks to balance natural resources and economic development with multiple green and blue infrastructure technologies incorporated into the overall design. RSY furthered its transformation from a brownfield to a 17 acre/6.9 hectares water technology business park with the completion of the infrastructure and revealing of plans for Water Tech One, a LEED® Platinum certified building breaking ground in 2015.
Water Research Pilot Project
In 2015, The Water Council, through a Wells Fargo Clean Technology & Innovation grant, launched the Pilot Project, a new initiative to support the progression of cutting edge water technologies from the lab to demonstration sites for practical application. This project will provide researchers, entrepreneurs and water technology companies with access to resources needed to scale-up and reach full commercialization potential. Stonehouse Water Technologies, LLC was selected by The Water Council to be the first participant of the Pilot Project, focusing on their mini water treatment node called Water POD.
“The Global Water Center is encouraging collaboration between top-flight research, education and cutting edge business development, creating a magnet for talent and positioning southeastern Wisconsin to be the Silicon Valley of freshwater.”
– Tammy Baldwin, U.S. Senator
The BREW Accelerator, A Program of The Water Council: Business. Research. Entrepreneurship. in Wisconsin.
With its debut in 2013, The BREW is the world’s first place-based seed accelerator focused on solving global freshwater challenges. In partnership with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, startups with commercialization potential will receive up to $50,000 in investments in exchange for a small percent of equity. In its second year, space in the accelerator expanded to include six winning startups and two runners-up. Winners of Batch III will be announced at the Water Summit in Milwaukee on June 24.
During the twelve month accelerator program, winning entrepreneurs receive:
- A suite in the Global Water Center for 12 months
- Business model and operations training through The Water Council and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UWW) Institute for Water Business
- Access to faculty and students from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) School for Freshwater Sciences and Marquette University
- Access to the Global Water Center’s Flow Lab
- Mentorship from dozens of area water technology experts plus direct access to BREW Preferred Partners, including: WIPFLI, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP, University of Wisconsin-Madison Law & Entrepreneurship Clinic and Global Water Center Executive in Residence
- Attendance to conferences and pitch sessions with The Water Council
- Access to investment capital funding sources
- Access to Pilot Project funding
- One year membership to The Water Council providing access to the water technology network
2014 Batch II Winners
A Wisconsin based company who assists in the design, manufacture, installation and operation of economical small and micro-scale hydropower systems. They apply modern turbine design software, advanced materials and additive manufacturing / 3D printing.
pHinding Solutions is a biotechnology company that creates new, innovative technologies by working directly with researchers to assess their individual needs inside and outside the laboratory.
WatrHub Inc. is an award-winning Data-Mining & Analytics company that matches water technologies & solutions with the needs of water & wastewater systems. Their cutting edge data-mining software and data-sourcing expertise provides the most comprehensive and in-depth view into municipal water systems and water-regulated industrial plants across U.S. and Canada.
WelIntel develops simple, smart technologies and information systems to help homeowners, farmers and communities learn about and sustainably manage their groundwater.
Pellucid Water has developed a simple low energy water decontamination technology using Dense-Medium Plasma. Unlike conventional water treatment technologies, Dense-Medium Plasma does not require chemical additives, membrane filters or ion exchangers.
Hydro-lite is a water sterilization device that uses UV light and hand powered electrical source requiring no batteries, filters or chemicals. Designed for individual use, it is an ideal handheld product for anyone without access to clean drinking water.
New Partnership Makes History: An alliance between water and time
In 2014, The Water Council formed a new partnership with the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) to document the water renaissance happening in Wisconsin they believe will shape the economic future of the state. It was decided that the significance of the water movement being spearheaded by The Water Council would one day be viewed as a part of Wisconsin’s history and should thus be well documented now, while the individuals responsible for The Water Council are still around, and able to contribute to that process.
WHS will make available their extensive water-related research collections, including maps, images and primary sources that tell the story of the western Great Lakes and Wisconsin’s water resources. This collection of documents paired with current Water Council accomplishments will detail the evolution of Milwaukee’s growth into the Epicenter of the Global Water Industry.
World Water Hub Momentum
- Home to more than 150 water technology companies employing approximately 20,000 workers
- $10.5 billion market (4% of the world’s water industry)
- Home to the nation’s only School of Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
- Designation as a United Nations Global Compact City, recognized internationally as a center of freshwater expertise
- North American Headquarters for the Alliance for Water Stewardship
- Home to the Institute for Water Business at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
- Over 100 academic scientists and researchers focused on water solutions
- Strengthened partnerships with over 15 organizations from around the world, many include a Memoranda of Understanding
2014 Awards Received by The Water Council
Water Council accomplishments to date are helping to write a compelling story to tell the world
- Milwaukee Business Journal Eureka Award
- Milwaukee Business Journal Real Estate Award
- – Best Public/Private Partnership for Global Water Center
- American Institute of Architects, Wisconsin Chapter
- – Merit Award for Global Water Center
- Wisconsin Innovation Award
- BizTimes Nonprofit Excellence Award – Social Enterprise of the Year