game changer

By Dean Amhaus, President & CEO

Well there’s not much to talk about this month…

I’m kidding, of course, as we received some game-changing news last week.

We’ve been waiting and hoping to make this announcement for months, and now it’s finally official: The Water Council is the recipient of a highly competitive National Science Foundation Engines Program Development Award! This $1 million grant will allow us and our partners to plan a Regional Innovation Engine focused on water and energy resiliency for manufacturers and utilities in Wisconsin, but its potential extends across the world.

This effort, which we’re informally calling the Resiliency Innovation Engine,* is supported by our core team of MKE Tech Hub, Wisconsin Technology Council, Marquette University, Madison Region Economic Partnership, and the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing & Productivity, along with a growing list of additional partners. The collective strength of these partners and collaboration across the Madison, Milwaukee and Green Bay regions lifted us to be included in a select group of award winners.

The goal is to help manufacturers and utilities adapt to a changing climate by rapidly developing and scaling needed water and energy innovation. Wisconsin has many resources necessary for this effort, including world-renowned universities, a strong manufacturing sector, innovative utilities and – as you know – one of the most mature water technology clusters in the world. This prospective Engine will help pull the pieces together through use-inspired research, a strong investment pipeline and a diverse, talented workforce.

Although eastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois are the main geographic focus of this endeavor, we believe it will have a huge impact on the water and energy sectors worldwide. Visit our website to learn more, and make sure to sign up for our Resiliency Innovation Engine mailing list while you’re there.

*Official name: Advancing Water & Energy Technologies for the Manufacturing & Utilities Sectors (WI, IL), Award No. 2304153

upcoming events

With our big news, there are even more reasons for members to attend our May 23 member meeting. Learn more about the NSF Award, network with fellow members, share your recent accomplishments and job openings, and tour O’Brien Hall, the new home of the Marquette University College of Business Administration.

We are hard at work planning our annual Water Leaders Summit, happening Sept. 13 and 14 at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. I am proud to announce, in keeping with recent news, that the theme of the summit will be resiliency – focused not just on our NSF Engine but on the many kinds of resiliency necessary to solve water challenges. We are in the fortunate position of having almost too much content to fit into the event. Stay tuned for registration to open soon.

View of a large event room from the side, with people sitting around round tables. On the right there is a small stage with people sitting on it and screens on either side.

Right afterward, working closely with the U.S. Commercial Service Wisconsin, we will host an Asian Development Bank (ADB) Roadshow event on Sept. 15 for businesses interested in expanding their export business in Asia. We are proud to be hosting Ambassador Chantale Wong, U.S. Executive Director of the ADB, for the roadshow and for a talk during the summit. Businesses that want to attend the September roadshow event must first attend an ADB 101 webinar on June 20.

Water stewardship

Not to be outdone, our water stewardship team is also celebrating a major accomplishment this month. Our WAVE: Water Stewardship Verified program was named an honorable mention in Fast Company’s annual World Changing Ideas list in the water category.

This month we also introduced an updated version of WAVE called WAVE 1.1, with slight adjustments based on feedback from implementers and WAVE-verified organizations. Click here to learn more.

We continue to talk to more and more companies about their water stewardship needs and how WAVE can help. I can’t wait to share more announcements with you soon. Meanwhile, we’ve been traveling the country spreading the importance of water stewardship. Recent conferences include the American Quality Association World Conference on Quality & Improvement and the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship 2023 International Corporate Citizenship Conference.

Innovation update

Last month we held our first week of virtual programming for BREW 2.0 2023. The 10 late-stage water technology companies in this year’s cohort attended sessions focused on marketing, go-to-market strategy, working with large corporations and more. They will attend another week of virtual sessions this month before the in-person week in Milwaukee at the end of June.

The in-person programming will culminate June 22 with Demo Day when our innovators will pitch their technology to an in-person and virtual audience. Join us!

A group of men stand in a line on a stage with a blue background as one man walks in front of them to accept an award.
Demo Day 2019

Following the morning Demo Day, the cohort will attend an investor event we are planning with NVNG Investment Advisors with a curated mix of global investors, water technology experts and large corporations of various industries.

new members

This month I’m pleased to welcome new member Plazer LLC. Each month our membership and connections continue to grow in the place Where Water Works!

member news & opportunities

Downtown city skyscrapers are reflected off of the river below. A sidewalk runs alongside the river.
Photo courtesy of Visit Milwaukee.