Michigan Targets Water Tech Innovation

In perhaps the most encouraging sign yet that Michigan intends to move its carefree water policy into a 21st century increasingly defined by water scarcity and conflict, state officials are quietly shaping a strategy to position the Great Lakes State as a leading innovator in the promising field of water tech.

The so-called Michigan Water Technology Cluster, led by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, aims to generate jobs, attract private investment, and boost the state's overall competitiveness by promoting the research, development, commercialization, and deployment of modern technologies and management practices to sustain essential water resources.

According to planning documents obtained by the GLG, the MEDC's 2008 goals include: 1) establishing the Water Tech Cluster as a strategy to identify, evaluate, and pursue water-related economic development opportunities; 2) Identifying, selecting, and launching two to four demonstration projects; and 3) Honing a plan for 2009 and beyond that positions Michigan as a center of excellence for the advancement of sustainable water use technologies and management strategies.

States like Arizona and cities such as Milwaukee and Cleveland already are advancing similiar initiatives to get out in front of what's expected to be a growing multi-billion dollar global business as population growth, pollution, climate change, and other trends outstrip the availability of clean fresh water.

In Michigan, the effort aims to leverage the state's advanced manufacturing expertise, water-related academic expertise, and robust freshwater resources to:
  • Promote the efficient use and reuse of water;
  • Retain and attract water-dependent businesses;
  • Develop and expand the water technology and services supply chainl; and
  • Promote and develop ecosystem restoration technologies.
"The Water Technologies Cluster Initiative was officially launched on April 11, 2008," agency documents state. "The MEDC established a planning group with representatives from academia [including Dr. Nancy Love from the University of MI and Dr. Joan Rose from MSU], state government [including MEDC, MI Dept. of Environmental Quality, and MI Dept. of Agriculture] and industry [including Dow Water Solutions, Siemens Water Technologies, and NSF International]."

"The aforementioned planning group is in the process of developing short and long term objectives, which will include the identification and implementation of, possibly up to three Water Technologies [Centers of Excellence] by the end of 2008."