The Water Council has received a Development Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for Water + Energy Forward (W+E Forward), an industrial innovation engine in eastern Wisconsin addressing water and energy resiliency and sustainability for manufacturers and utilities.

Formally titled Advancing Water & Energy Technologies for the Manufacturing & Utilities Sectors (WI, IL), Award No. 2304153, the project is part of NSF’s Regional Innovation Engines program meant to:

  • Advance critical technologies.
  • Address pressing national and societal challenges.
  • Cultivate partnerships across industry, academia, government, nonprofits, civil society and communities of practice.
  • Promote and stimulate economic growth and job creation.
  • Spur regional innovation and talent.

The Water Council and our partners have received a $1 million, two-year Development Award (Type 1) to prepare the region for a Regional Innovation Engine. At the end of the two-year cycle, we will apply for a Launch Award (Type 2) of up to $160 million over 10 years.

An Aspiring Engine

The world faces an urgent need to create a more resilient economy. Our goal for W+E Forward is to facilitate the solutions needed to enable manufacturers and utilities to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change through water and energy innovation, and to quickly scale those solutions for wider use by industry, government and other stakeholders.

Upon completion of the Type 1 award, we will have built a unified, integrated and comprehensive water and energy resiliency engine plan:

  • Leveraging the region’s existing water and energy industry solution leaders to enable testing, commercialization, scale and deployment of resiliency solutions for manufacturers and utilities.
  • Developing targeted and integrated use-inspired research strategies for manufacturers and utilities with a focus on advancing existing regional universities and private R&D industry strengths to address current and future water and energy challenges.
  • Creating a resiliency roadmap for manufacturing and utilities that supports engine stakeholders with a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem to assist in every stage, from research to pilot to commercial deployment.
  • Developing an inclusive workforce strategy to address skills gaps, leveraging post-secondary and community partnerships connected to under-resourced communities.

We will accomplish this through action steps during the two years of the grant including:

  • Holding stakeholder focus groups and visioning sessions to broaden and strengthen stakeholder engagement.
  • Creating a roadmap of existing and needed programs for supporting solutions at every stage, from research to commercialization.
  • Identifying university and industry research aligned with water and energy solutions.
  • Expanding pathways within the investor community to support solutions.
  • Developing a comprehensive and inclusive workforce strategy.
  • Creating a talent development action plan.


learn more

Lead partners

Click here to learn about the individuals leading our engine.

additional initial partners

A. O. Smith Corporation                                                        New North, Inc.
August Brown, LLC                                                                NVNG Investment Advisors, LLC
BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation, Inc.                               Sentry Equipment Corporation
Gateway Technical College                                                  STEM Forward
Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce                         The Business Council, Inc.
Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce       Urban League of Greater Madison
Midpoint Ventures                                                                 UWM Research Foundation, Inc.
Milwaukee 7 Economic Development Partnership          WEC Energy Group
Milwaukee Environmental Collaboration Office               Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation
Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District                      Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

To inquire about becoming a partner, contact Stacy Vogel Davis.

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  • Stacy Vogel Davis

    Communications Director


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