Wisconsin, Israel to collaborate on water research

Wisconsin, Israel to collaborate on water research

The Water Council of the Midwestern US state signs accords with Ben-Gurion University and the Israel Innovation Authority

Illustrative glass of water (Pixaby free images)
Illustrative glass of water (Pixaby free images)

The Water Council of Wisconsin and the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have signed an accord to increase collaboration and research in water related issues between the midwestern US state and Israel as a first step to setting up an arm of Wisconsin’s National Science Foundation center in Israel.

The agreement calls for collaboration on water-related applied research that aims to introduce new technologies globally through Wisconsin’s National Science Foundation sponsored Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) for Water Equipment and Policy (WEP). The foundation is an independent federal agency that aims to promote science and advance health and welfare.

The Water Council also signed an accord with the Israel Innovation Authority, a public organization responsible for Israel’s innovation policy, to develop a new research partnership in which Israeli and Wisconsin water technology startup companies will collaborate on piloting and developing new applications for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and other Wisconsin water utilities.

The accords were signed during Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s trade mission to Israel this week.

“These partnerships will strengthen the sector in both countries, and are expected to open new markets to water technology companies in Wisconsin and Israel,”  said Walker in a statement released by Ben-Gurion University.

The Zuckerberg Institute conducts interdisciplinary research and graduate education in water sciences.

Ben-Gurion University campus, August 2014. (Dani Machlis)

The WEP Center is a collaborative non-profit organization led by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in partnership with Marquette University, and with members including corporations and government agencies.

The agreements will result in “bringing together our two world water technology hubs,” said Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of The Water Council. “The partnership with Ben-Gurion University lays the foundation for creating the first I/UCRC presence for the National Science Foundation in Israel and fosters greater business and academic collaboration.  The agreement with the Israel Innovation Authority offers tangible support for Israeli businesses seeking to conduct pilots with Wisconsin water utilities.”

The partnership with the Zuckerberg Institute will enable Wisconsin universities and US companies to access research being conducted in Israel and connect with some of Israel’s innovative water technology companies. Likewise, Israeli researchers would get access to research being conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette.

“While we share different water challenges, we look forward to complementing each other in addressing water quality issues,” said Zuckerberg Institute director Prof. Noam Weisbrod in a statement.

Under the agreement with the Israel Innovation Authority, The Water Council will provide $100,000 in research funds, provided by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, which will be matched by the authority.

The funds will be used to allow Israeli companies to pilot technologies at Wisconsin utilities. These projects may include cybersecurity technologies, data analytics for utility applications and other water technologies or applications. The agreement calls for Israeli startups to come to the US to commercialize their products for the North American market, the statement said.

The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District will provide the facilities for those companies to develop their technology in a pilot program, and will have some preferential access to that technology if the pilot is successful, the statement said.

The Wisconsin governor led a 16-member Wisconsin delegation on a trip to boost exports, increase foreign investment in Wisconsin and develop new partnerships between the state and Israel.

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