Great Lakes Water Innovation Engine is Awarded up to $160 million U.S. National Science Foundation Grant

Posted by Anne Kane on January 30, 2024

The Entrepreneurs’ Center is part of Great Lakes ReNEW, the multistate partnership to boost Great Lakes leadership on resource recovery and the circular economy

DAYTON, OH, January 29, 2024 — The Entrepreneurs’ Center is proud to announce its partnership with Current, the Chicago-based water innovation hub, that has been awarded up to $160 million over 10 years from the U.S. National Science Foundation to develop and grow a water-focused innovation engine in the Great Lakes region. 

The funding will enable Great Lakes ReNEW, a six-state collaboration coordinated by Current in partnership with Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago, to fulfill the NSF’s mission of spurring economic growth in regions that have not fully participated in the technology boom of the past few decades.

“Waste has no place in this world of increasing water and resource scarcity,” said Alaina Harkness, executive director of Current and principal investigator for Great Lakes ReNEW. “Our engine will find new ways to recover and reuse water, energy, nutrients, and critical materials from our water. These innovations will create economic opportunities for residents of our region; help strengthen our domestic supply chain for clean energy technologies; and address water quality and security issues around the world.”

In its winning proposal, ReNEW sets out to turn waste into wealth by figuring out how to remove dangerous forever chemicals, such as PFAS, and valuable minerals, such as lithium, from our wastewater. The vision is that American manufacturers would then reuse some of these extracted valuable minerals, enabling domestic production of batteries and fertilizers, almost all of which are currently imported. 

The Entrepreneurs’ Center is part of the ReNEW leadership team, and will directly support efforts to identify promising technologies, support entrepreneurs and small businesses as they bring those technologies to market, and connect those small businesses to critical dilutive and non-dilutive capital resources from across the six-state region and the nation. 

“The Entrepreneurs’ Center is thrilled to be part of Great Lakes ReNEW, as we bring together a diverse, synergistic team of individuals and organizations sharing a common passion for innovation, and for addressing critical issues with both a global and national impact. We are proud to support the initiative within the State of Ohio, and to join our peers across the Region.” Said Scott Koorndyk, President of the Entrepreneurs’ Center. 

About the Entrepreneurs’ Center

The Entrepreneurs’ Center (EC) is a modern economic development organization that powers progress and prosperity through entrepreneurship. Annually, the EC works with over 1,000 entrepreneurs to start and grow companies, create jobs, generate revenue, and attract investment. The EC empowers main street and technology businesses through complimentary professional services, including business planning, mentoring, training, networking, commercialization, and capital investment. The EC’s talented and experienced team of advisors, entrepreneurs-in-residence, and staff design and facilitate diverse, world-class business acceleration programs on behalf of corporations, higher education institutions, and government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Defense from their headquarters at The Hub Powered by PNC Bank in the historic Dayton Arcade. Learn more at EC Innovates.

About ReNEW

ReNEW was one of 10 groups from across the United States to be chosen as an NSF Engine. It was selected from 16 finalists, 188 invited proposals, and more than 700 initial submissions. Learn more about ReNEW.

About Current

Current is an independent nonprofit water innovation hub, founded in Chicago in 2016. Our mission is to grow an inclusive Blue Economy, accelerate innovation and solve pressing water challenges. We bring together corporations, advocates, researchers and governments to develop water management policies and test new technologies—projects that would be too risky or even impossible without sustained collaboration. Current has helped attract more than $35 million in federal investments for water innovation in the region, launched the first real-time water quality monitoring tool for Chicago waterways, drafted a blueprint to build a thriving Blue Economy in Illinois and supported the commercialization of more than a dozen water startups. Learn more about Current. 

About the NSF Engines

Launched by the NSF Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships in May 2022, the NSF Engines program uniquely harnesses the nation’s science and technology research, development enterprise and regional-level resources. For more information, visit the NSF Engines program website.


For More Information, Contact:
Leslie Klenke, Director of Marketing
Entrepreneurs’ Center
[email protected]

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