A Milwaukee-based energy-focused industrial and academic research partnership will announce it is expanding its focus to the entire Midwest, in a move to compete for $25 million in federal funding for advanced manufacturing.
The group, the Wisconsin Energy Research Consortium, has doubled its membership in the past year, and 15% of its members hail from out-of-state.
The Wisconsin energy, power and controls cluster, housed at the former Eaton Technology Center, was cited as a key growth opportunity for the state in a recent report by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., the agency that replaced the former Department of Commerce.
WEDC said last month it plans to invest $500,000 to $1 million to create an incubator focused on energy technology start-ups at the former Eaton space, now known as Century City Tower.
The energy research consortium was founded in Milwaukee four years ago as an effort to nurture collaboration on energy, power and controls research taking place at the city’s three engineering schools. Its focus then broadened to the state of Wisconsin, adding the University of Wisconsin and its engineering school to the fold.
Now the focus of the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium will be an eight-state region including Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The headquarters and a planned energy business incubator will be based here.
“The reality is so many of our companies are in multiple states, and commerce doesn’t stop at Kenosha at the state line,” said Alan Perlstein, the group’s executive director.
The organization in its strategic plan analyzed other similar organizations around the country and determined it would be more successful with a focus on a broader region.
The effort also could help the group land an Economic Development Administration award, part of an Obama administration effort to fund strategic regional economic development strategies that aim to attract and expand investment and expand exports.
WERC’s signature growth strategy is centered on the supply chain for distributed energy resource systems — projects that combine renewable energy, power management and energy storage. The group is working on development of microgrid projects in Milwaukee and Madison as part of that effort.
The federal funding would help the city with an advanced manufacturing center in the 30th Street Industrial Corridor as well as create an energy-focus incubator at Century Tower, the former Eaton building. It would also provide support for the water technology accelerator/incubator.
The consortium tapped a Brookings Institution report in 2011 that concluded Wisconsin ranked 13th in the nation in clean economy jobs, with 76,858.
Published by Renee Pasciak on July 25, 2013