new organization aims to leverage area's expertise in water technology

The health of Lake Erie has come a long way in the past 40 years, and it is now considered by many to be a case study of a recovering ecosystem. Yet not very many people know that, in part as a result of cleaning up our water pollution as well as our close proximity to a Great Lake, Northeast Ohio companies have developed rich expertise in water technology.

To leverage this cluster, influence policy, and conduct research and education, a group of organizations have launched The Alliance for our Water Future, a new nonprofit organization that seeks to spur innovative solutions to freshwater issues locally and globally.

"Silicon Valley is an example of what one industry cluster can do for a region," says Byron Clayton, Vice President at NorTech. "Companies all worked together in that region to leverage their strengths. In Northeast Ohio, we have a great legacy in cleaning up industrial waste water. We identified areas where we have the best chance of competing, and that's been the focus of our water technology cluster."

The areas that NorTech identified are automation and controls (identifying the best, most efficient way to control water), absorbents (extracting contaminants from water) and corrosion resistance (preventing water systems from corroding).

NorTech's role is to identify, organize and accelerate clusters. The Alliance will help promote this success story and spur cross-sector collaboration. By working together, the groups involved in the Alliance hope to make a global impact.

"This is about the economic future of our region," says Fran DiDonato, Program Manager of the Alliance. "If we can show that we had success with cleaning water, then that gives us credibility when we export our solutions to other places."

Two Northeast Ohio companies, MAR Systems and ABSMaterials, were recently selected by the Artemis Project as 2012 Top 50 Water Companies. Rockwell Automation is also considered a major player in the water technology field.

The founding members of the Alliance are NorTech, Case Western Reserve University, Port of Cleveland, Cleveland Metroparks, Cleveland State University, Hiram College, Great Lakes Science Center, Kent State University, MAR Systems and Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

Source: Byron Clayton, Fran DiDonato
Writer: Lee Chilcote