A new project wants to unite Chicago’s entrepreneurs, researchers and utility companies to solve water problems — and fan Chicago’s economic flame along the way.

The public-private partnership is called Current, and it’s being led by World Business Chicago. Current’s goal is to bring water research out of labs and put it into the hands of companies and utilities.

“Current is the tool to take the research from Argonne (National Laboratory), Northwestern (University), University of Chicago … and have it reach the marketplace and affect people’s lives,” said Seth Snyder, chief of water research at Argonne.

Argonne does about $11 million in water research a year, Snyder said. That ranges from investigating how to recover nutrients from wastewater to analyzing climate change data.

Argonne often works with companies to apply that research, but there was “no coherent way to do it. Everything was one-off,” Snyder said. He hopes Current will change that.

The project will have three focus areas: a research consortium, a network for innovation in water tech and a program to encourage the reuse of resources from wastewater. Other partners include the city of Chicago, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and the University of Illinois.

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