Cleveland Water Alliance awarded $600K Industry Challenge Grant

Sept. 22, 2020
U.S. Economic Development Administration funds to be used to grow the region’s water economy.

CLEVELAND, OHIO -- The Cleveland Water Alliance is one of 52 organizations nationwide that will receive funding from the U.S. government to support entrepreneurship and grow the economy.

CWA, a non-profit organization that seeks to better utilize the economic and job-creating potential of Lake Erie through innovation and technology, was awarded a $600,000 Industry Challenge grant from the Economic Development Administration, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced in a press release.

The EDA announcement included CWA in its grantee highlights, noting the organization’s focus on growing the region’s water economy by providing innovators the ability to conceive of, test, scale-up, and demonstrate innovative water technology directly with customers.

In Cleveland, water technology has been recognized as a strategic industry sector for the region by the Cleveland Innovation Project and its partners, the Cleveland Foundation, Greater Cleveland Partnership, JumpStart, TeamNEO and the Fund For Our Economic Future.

The EDA grants are made annually and the 2020 awardees can leverage an additional $44 million in matching funds from a variety of private and public sector sources.

CWA Executive Director and President Bryan Stubbs said the organization has secured matching funds from regional partners that will bring the total funding for this initiative to $1.2 million. 

Stubbs said the funding comes at an especially good time as Greater Cleveland works to overcome the harmful economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Amidst a global pandemic, the water industry represents one of the few sectors of economic growth in Northeast Ohio,’’ Stubbs said. “Water stress is on the rise all over the world, and innovation is needed more than ever: clean, fresh water is critical to navigating our future with COVID-19 and beyond.”

Stubbs said the funding will support CWA’s Blue Economy Innovation Initiative, which includes: 

1) Developing Accelerator Testbeds within four environments (watershed, utility, consumer, and industrial water-use).

 2) Expanding Open-Innovation Challenge programming to convene customers and entrepreneurs across the Lake Erie Basin around key challenges and opportunities in the freshwater sector.

As lead for this Initiative, Cleveland Water Alliance (CWA) is one of the most effective freshwater innovation clusters in North America. Fostering acceleration programs for new companies and emerging technologies, CWA and its partners are directly linked to more than 300 net new jobs annually within Cuyahoga County, as well as 16,000 jobs and over 300 water-expertise companies across Northeast Ohio.

This Initiative bridges the gap in bringing new water technologies to market, while creating 270 new jobs and incubating 60 startups in Cleveland and the Lake Erie Basin, ultimately accelerating the impact of innovation on an increasingly water-stressed world. 

CWA is among more than 50 nonprofits, institutions of higher education, and entrepreneurship-focused organizations from 36 states to receive the EDA grants totaling $35 million to support entrepreneurship, acceleration of company growth, and increased access to risk capital across regional economies.

Grantees were selected from a competitive pool of more than 600 applications and represent exemplary innovation and entrepreneurship from rural and urban areas across America, the EDA release said. 

“There are so many great ideas and products coming to market to help keep our Great Lakes safe, healthy, and accessible,’’ Stubbs said. “We have a lot more to do but funding like this is a critical part of the effort.”

About Cleveland Water Alliance: Established in 2014, CWA is a non-profit organization that seeks to better utilize the economic and job-creating potential of Lake Erie while also urging greater care of this valuable, natural asset. We are among the region’s leaders working to bring together Northeast Ohio’s water providers, business and political leaders, researchers and environmental organizations to establish Cleveland as a nationally recognized center for water innovation. 

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