The Water Council sets big goals in strategic plan

Aspires to become federal center of excellence

Posted by Molly Dill from BizTimes on March 1, 2019

The Water Council, the Milwaukee-based organization that leads the Global Water Center, set some big aspirational goals for the next three years in its new strategic plan released this week.

Among the strategic future milestones set forth in the nonprofit’s Strategic Plan 2019-2021 were: become a federal center of excellence; gain major funding or an acquisition for one of its BREW startup companies; form a partnership with the World Bank; and open an office in Mexico.

“(Strategic future) milestones are like dreams. If we could accomplish that, that would be a pretty significant milestone,” said Dean Amhaus, president and chief executive officer of The Water Council.

The federal COE would be a hub in Milwaukee the government would help create to foster cross-industry collaboration among experts in water, similar to the Centers for Disease Control, but on a much smaller scale, he said.

The Water Council’s BREW Accelerator for water-related startups, founded in 2013, is now preparing to launch its sixth cohort. The strategic plan indicates the organization is aiming for a 2019 investment or acquisition of a BREW company. Amhaus said some companies are getting close to receiving investment or acquisition offers, but it’s too soon to talk about.

“There are a couple that are seeing some significant attention,” he said.

The Water Council also hopes to see a new water business – likely one of its BREW companies – make a $25 million investment in Milwaukee by 2021, according to the strategic plan.

“As opposed to a really defined metric, it’s more to be able to say here we are in a defined time and we see one of our companies, because they’ve got an investment or sales, that then they are making that kind of an investment back in,” Amhaus said. “That may be opening up a new building. It’s very open-ended, but they’re making a major commitment into Milwaukee.”

The Water Council has already established a relationship with a World Bank. It’s co-hosting a water technology procurement event at Badger Meter Inc. with the World Bank this month. The organization aims to form a true partnership with the entity this year.

“This is the only place that they’re doing it in the United States,” Amhaus said. “It’s a good first step and they reached out to us to be able to do that.”

And The Water Council plans to open an office in Mexico by 2021 to meet increasing demand there for its Alliance for Water Stewardship program. Canada is also on the docket, but for language reasons, Mexico is a higher priority for boots-on-the-ground, Amhaus said.

In addition, in the strategic plan, The Water Council set a strategic future milestone to “create Freshwater University.” Amhaus downplayed that title, indicating the effort would be more of a freshwater collaborative among all the colleges in the UW System.

“UW-Milwaukee is talking with the UW System about a collaboration of different groups, universities across the state and being able to work together on freshwater talent development,” he said.

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