WI opens first-of-its-kind water business, research facility addressing world water challenges

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MILWAUKEE, WI, Sept. 23, 2013 -- On Thursday, Sept. 12, the Water Council and its partners celebrated the grand opening of the Global Water Center -- the United States' first-of-its-kind collaborative business and academic research and commercialization facility focused on freshwater technologies.

The Global Water Center, located in Walker's Point Neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wis., solidifies the city's position as a World Water Hub. The Milwaukee area holds a $10.5 billion stake in the market, which accounts for 4 percent of the world's total water business.

"The opening of the Global Water Center is one of the most significant steps for the Water Council since it was founded in 2009," said Rich Meeusen, co-founder and co-chair of the Water Council, as well as chairman, president and CEO of Badger Meter, Inc. "One-fifth of the world's population lacks access to clean water. By attracting new talent and collaborating together to develop new technologies, the Milwaukee region has the unique opportunity to address global freshwater needs and positions Milwaukee as the Silicon Valley of water technology."

After nearly 13 months of construction, the Global Water Center is located at 247 W. Freshwater Way. Formerly the intersection of 3rd and Pittsburgh Avenue, the street was formally renamed to Freshwater Way to symbolize the industrial evolution happening in the region. Originally built in 1904, the 98,000 square-foot building features common area amenities, including a 44-person lecture hall, exhibition space for new prototypes, as well as high-tech, shared core facilities. The first floor of the building also features a $500,000 state-of-the-art flow lab, provided by Badger Meter. The shared lab provides tenants with the ability to conduct highly accurate testing of water samples in real-time, something that historically has been outsourced.

"Milwaukee is home to more than 150 water technology companies that span the full range of water use, from manufacturing components, to water delivery and purification," said Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of the Water Council. "The Global Water Center gives us the unique opportunity to harness the economic talent and technology development of industry and academia under one roof to truly position Milwaukee as the World Water Hub."

The opening of the Global Water Center serves as the first physical building block in the long-term development vision for the Water Council. The Center is also located 1.3 miles north of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences, which is undergoing a $53 million expansion of its water research facility and will open approximately May 2014.

"The Global Water Center is just the beginning," said Paul Jones, co-founder and co-chair of the Water Council and executive chairman of A. O. Smith Corporation. "Five years from now, you will see a new water-driven economy flourishing in Reed Street Yards and the surrounding area."

In addition to the established water-related companies, the Global Water Center will also serve as an incubator for water technology startups through the Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator Program (GFSA). The GFSA is one of the world's first mentor-driven seed accelerators focused on startups that address global challenges in freshwater. Participants in the program receive a $50,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), low-cost space in the Global Water Center, business model and operations training, access to academic faculty from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (UWW), as well as mentorship from dozens of area water technology experts and access to investment capital funding sources.

"The accelerator program brings together established water technology companies, universities and startups to encourage and foster innovation," said McGee Young, Founder of H2Oscore and inaugural participant in the Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator Program. "The program creates a new way for emerging water technology companies to secure resources and to further develop technology with the purpose of commercialization of advanced water technologies."

Current tenants of the Global Water Center include the Water Council, Alga Bionics, LLC; A.O. Smith Corporation; Badger Meter; Envolus, Inc.; Fund for Lake Michigan; Greater Milwaukee Committee; Grundfos Pumps; Hanging Gardens; H2Oscore; Michael Best & Friedrich; Microbe Detectives; Noah Technologies; Pave Drain; Rexnord; Sloan Valve; Stormwater Solutions Engineering, LLC; UWM School of Freshwater Sciences; UWW Institute for Water Business; Veolia Environnement;  Wipfli; WEDC; Xela Innovations and Zizzo Group Marketing, PR and New Media.

About The Water Council

Created by leaders in both business and education, The Water Council is convening the region’s existing water companies and research clusters, developing education programs to train talent, and building partnerships that cut across all sectors and geographic boundaries. The Water Council believes it can advance Milwaukee’s global position by becoming a magnet that attracts creative talent, innovative ideas and is recognized as a World Water Hub for research, education and economic development. For more information, visit www.thewatercouncil.com.

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