WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Karen Mills traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, to announce a new collaborative effort called the Water Technology Innovation Cluster (WTIC). The WTIC will develop and commercialize innovative technologies to solve environmental and public health challenges, encourage sustainable economic development, and create jobs. As a starting point, WTIC will focus on technologies in the states of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana that will help protect the health of millions of Americans by developing state-of-the-art safeguards for clean water.
This region is home to many small firms ready to seize the opportunities presented by the WTIC. Small businesses are the engine of growth for the economy and they develop the cutting-edge products and services we need to stay competitive on a global scale. By bringing them together with public utilities, research partners, and others, their ideas will have greater opportunities to move from the drawing board to the marketplace.
“Protecting America’s waters is one of EPA’s top priorities, and we have called for innovative strategies and technology to meet our nation’s 21st century water needs. By bringing together public utilities, research partners, and innovative businesses, the Water Technology Innovation Cluster will be instrumental in strengthening health protections for millions of Americans and promoting investments in cutting-edge technology,” Jackson said. “This cluster will benefit from the region’s abundance of cutting-edge companies. Investments made here will encourage continued growth, while positioning our nation to lead the way in a new market of environmental technologies.”
"All across America, innovative small businesses are creating jobs and rebuilding the economy. The Water Technology Innovation Cluster will lead to new opportunities for entrepreneurs throughout the greater Cincinnati area,” Mills said. “This public-private partnership will not only improve public health, but also help keep us competitive around the world by allowing small businesses to invest in new ideas."
A regional technology cluster is a geographic concentration of interconnected firms — businesses, suppliers, service providers — and supporting institutions such as local government, business chambers, universities, investors, and others that work together in an organized manner to promote economic growth and technological innovation.
EPA has invested $5 million to conduct key studies of the environmental technology marketplace for drinking water, acquire the services of a cluster consultant, and conduct technology and knowledge mapping of the region to gauge its strengths. WTIC will develop, test, and market innovative processes and technologies including those that:
- are sustainable and water and energy efficient;
- will be cost effective for the utilities and consumers;
- address a broad array of contaminants; and
- improve public health protection.
In addition, WTIC will move forward with the development of green infrastructure, including rain gardens. The rain gardens will be designed to receive stormwater runoff from roads, roofs, and parking lots. The rain gardens’ sandy soils allow stormwater to gain access to the native soils below and eventually contribute to groundwater recharge. Pollutants and nutrients in stormwater runoff are removed by rain garden vegetation and soils through biological and physical processes.
Based on the history of EPA’s laboratory in Cincinnati on water research, Administrator Jackson selected this region to launch federal support of WTIC. Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana have a strong history of water research and water technology innovation. A large portion of the jobs created will be based in the region to assist with research and development as needed. By bringing the small businesses together with public utilities, research partners, and others, the technologies will have a greater opportunity to move from the drawing board to the marketplace. WTIC and the region intend to use these assets as a platform for building a technology-driven economy that enhances environmental policy development, and helps protect human health and the environment at the regional, national, and international level.
At present, WTIC steering committee is the only formal cluster entity leading the planning and development. The steering committee currently is developing a framework and operating structure that will guide WTIC’s make-up and operating processes. The intention is for WTIC to flourish under its own power, with EPA as one of many participants collaborating to develop technologies to solve environmental challenges.