State starts to organize water tech cluster

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

Michigan’s economic development officials have launched an effort to position the state as a leader in the booming global water tech business—a move that aims to capture a significant share of the tens of thousands of jobs and the estimated $114 billion generated by the U.S. water technologies market.

In April, the MEDC launched the Michigan Water Technologies Cluster Initiative to more efffectively coordinate and leverage existing assets such as the abundance of freshwater, extensive university expertise, advanced R&D capabilities, manufacturing know-how and environmental leadership. The overarching goal, agency execs say, is to attract capital investment, spur job growth, and develop cutting-edge water technologies for industrial and municipal use.
States like Arizona and Great Lakes cities such as Milwaukee already have launched similiar initiatives.

.“Water is a hot issue,” says Gil Pezza, co-chair of the initiative with Howard Edelson, both of the MEDC. “The key concept of innovation is that companies need to rely on other institutions, companies and industries. The Cluster creates the links needed to spur the innovation.”

The economic opportunities lie in attracting and retaining water-dependent businesses, and innovating, developing, commercializing, and deploying new services and technologies to cleanup, conserve and sustain vital water resources.

“Water is a 300-billion-a-year world market that is growing exponentially,” Pezza says. “It’s expected to be in the trillions during the first quarter of this century. U.S. federal expenditures for water-related R&D exceeded $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2006 and are expected to grow.”

Pezza and Edelson say the initiative will align Michigan for federal funding.

The initiative’s steering committee includes leaders from every major university in the state, Governor Granholm’s office, the MEDC, MDEQ, and MDA, and industry experts, including the Holland office of Siemens Water Technologies.

Source: Gil Pezza, Michigan Economic Development Corporation; Howard Edelson, Michigan Economic Development Corporation

Deborah Johnson Wood is the development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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