WEDC awards grants to water startups

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), in partnership with The Milwaukee Water Council, on Wednesday announced that four freshwater technology startups have been selected to participate in a first-of-its-kind Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator Program.


Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of The Water Council, also announced that the Global Water Center will have its grand opening on Sept. 12.

The companies for the Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator Program include Microbe Detectives (Madison), Vegetal i.D. (France), H2O Score (Milwaukee) and Noah Technologies (Port Washington).

The six-month accelerator program, scheduled to begin on Sept. 2, provides each company with space in the Global Water Center located in Milwaukee, as well a $50,000 grant from the WEDC to cover startup costs.

Recipients also will have access to business model and operations training through the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s (UWW) Institute for Water Business, access to faculty and students with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s (UWM) School of Freshwater Sciences, mentorship from local water technology experts, and access to investment capital funding sources.

“This accelerator program creates an entirely new pathway for emerging water tech companies to secure the critical resources needed to reach proof-of concept and commercialization of advanced technologies,” said Gov. Scott Walker.

“This collaboration brings these companies with important water technology advances in the world to further development their innovation here in Wisconsin,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of the WEDC. “This collaborative investment will further demonstrate Milwaukee and Wisconsin’s reputation as a global center of excellence for water-related research and innovation development.”

“UW-Whitewater’s partnership with the Water Council’s Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator Program represents the next step in our commitment to growing southeastern Wisconsin’s legacy as a water business innovator,” said Linda Reid, director of the Institute for Water Business at the UW-Whitewater. “This program inspires and prepares students to be world-class leaders in water entrepreneurship and technology, fosters interaction with successful role models, and facilitates supporting faculty research.”

Applications for the accelerator program were reviewed by the Water Council and a global panel of water technology professionals, investors and entrepreneur experts.

“Central to being a global water technology leader is to not only have world renowned businesses and universities but also having an innovative program that encourages and supports enterprising entrepreneurs such as the ones that are part of the Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator,” said Amhaus. “Working closely with our partners, we are embarking on an unparalleled program that will serve as another important milestone for Milwaukee and Wisconsin as we grow our water technology cluster.”

The Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator Program was officially announced Wednesday morning at a news conference held at the Global Water Center, 223 W. Pittsburgh Ave. In addition to Amhaus, Reid and Hall, Paul Jones, executive chairman of A.O. Smith Corp., spoke at the event, and expressed optimism for the potential for development in the Reed Street Yards area where the Water Center is located.

“If in five years we don’t have eight to ten buildings in Reed Street Yards, I’ll be disappointed,” he said.

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