Seed accelerator to bring water technology startups to Wisconsin

WEDC and The Water Council partner to fund water innovation

MADISON, Wis. March 12, 2013 – A first-of-its-kind accelerator for water technology startups, announced today by The Water Council and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), will solidify Milwaukee’s reputation as a global center of excellence for water-related research and industry.

The Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator program, managed by The Water Council and funded by WEDC, will provide grants of $50,000 each to six water technology startups with commercialization potential. During the six-month accelerator program, set to begin Sept. 1, selected startups will receive:  space in The Water Council Technology Building in downtown Milwaukee (opening in July), business model and operations training through the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Institute for Water Business, access to faculty and students with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s (UWM) School for Freshwater Sciences, mentorship from dozens of area water technology experts, and access to investment capital funding sources.

“Our vision is to foster innovation by bringing together the most important water technology advances in the world, right here in Wisconsin,” said Gov. Scott Walker. “Through a combination of public and private support, we have the opportunity to shape our region into a global water hub where science and industry work together to address the world’s most pressing water-related challenges.”

The Water Council will select participants using multiple criteria, including commercialization potential, compatibility with existing companies, and long-term interest in growing in Milwaukee. Grants will fund startup costs, including lab supplies, research and product development expenses, and professional services.

The Water Council Technology Building features water flow and wet lab space, broadband, video conferencing, boardroom and meeting space, and an auditorium. Startups will have access to pilot sites with UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences and Milwaukee’s sewage and water operations, plus the ability to work with international water technology leaders at the center, including A. O. Smith, Badger Meter, Grundfos Pumps, Sloan Valve and Veolia Water.

“The seed accelerator program will bring global inventor-entrepreneurs to our Milwaukee water center, where they will find local expertise, resources and support to get their company started,” said Rich Meeusen, co-chair of The Water Council and chairman, president and CEO of Badger Meter. “We expect that when they experience firsthand the value of locating in the global center of the industry, they will opt to permanently establish their company in Wisconsin.”

The Water Council is working with the International Water Association (IWA) to promote the program worldwide among qualified researchers and startups in the water technology industry. IWA will assist the Wisconsin team with prioritizing nominations and applications, and final candidates will be chosen by The Water Council.

About Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), formed in 2011 as a public-private entity, leads economic development efforts for the state and nurtures business growth and job creation by advancing Wisconsin’s business climate. In addition to Wisconsin’s strong legacy industries of agriculture and manufacturing, recent growth has occurred in water technology, renewable energy, bio-sciences, health care, and food processing. In 2012 Wisconsin was ranked No. 20 in Chief Executive Magazine’s “Best States for Business” and No. 17 as a top state for business by CNBC. WEDC partners with 650 economic development organizations throughout Wisconsin to serve businesses looking to start, grow or relocate. WEDC has four focus areas: business and industry development, economic and community development, entrepreneurship and innovation, and international business development. Visit or follow WEDC on Twitter @_InWisconsin to learn more.

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


[EDIT 4/1/13]  To learn more about the Global Freshwater Seed Accelerator, please visit the program website here:

About The Water Council

The Water Council, the only organization of its kind in the United States, was established in 2009 by Milwaukee-area businesses, education and government leaders. With more than 150 water technology companies in the Milwaukee area, the region’s water industry is a $10.5 billion dollar market and accounts for four percent of the world’s total water business. The non-profit organization is linking together global water technology companies, innovative water entrepreneurs, acclaimed academic research programs and, most importantly, some of the nation’s brightest and most energetic professionals. The Water Council is capturing the attention of the world and transforming the Milwaukee region into a World Water Hub for freshwater research, economic development and education. The Water Council is located in the Global Water Center at 247 W. Freshwater Way, Suite 500, Milwaukee, WI 53204.
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