Wisconsin’s water advocate signs agreements with Israel

TEL AVIV — The Water Council of Wisconsin signed two agreements during Gov. Scott Walker’s trade mission to Israel, one with a university and the other with an innovation-oriented arm of the Israeli government.

The governor’s trade mission, from Oct. 27 to Nov. 3, also included meetings between Israeli and Wisconsin leaders in business and technology.

The Water Council, a Milwaukee-based nonprofit advocate for water industry development, and the Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, signed one of the two agreements. It calls for collaboration on water-related research aimed at introducing new technologies.

The Water Council and the Israel Innovation Authority also signed an agreement to develop a new research partnership. That partnership is to have Israeli and Wisconsin water technology start-up companies collaborate on new applications for the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and other Wisconsin water utilities.

Noam Weisbrod, director of The Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research; Rivka Carmi, president of Ben-Gurion University; Gov. Scott Walker and Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of The Water Council. Photo by Dani Machlis/Ben-Gurion University.

The agreements were signed in separate ceremonies in Tel Aviv and at Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva on the last full day of Walker’s trade mission to Israel.

“These agreements will further enhance Wisconsin’s international reputation as a global leader in water technology by forging new partnerships that will pay dividends in the long run,” Walker said, according to a news release. “These partnerships will strengthen the sector in both countries, and are expected to open new markets to water technology companies in Wisconsin and Israel.”

“For the past year The Water Council has laid the groundwork for the development of these vitally important agreements, which will result in bringing together our two world water technology hubs,” said Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of The Water Council.

The Zuckerberg Institute, Israel’s largest and leading water institute, conducts interdisciplinary, cutting-edge research and graduate education in water sciences, aimed at improving human well-being through technologies and policies for sustainable use of water resources, according to a release.

The Water Council and its affiliated efforts have ties to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University, and several local and national businesses, including Badger Meter and A.O. Smith Corp.

Under the agreement with the Israel Innovation Authority, The Water Council will secure $100,000 in research funds from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. Those funds will be matched by the authority, a public organization responsible for Israel’s innovation policy.

The funds will be used by Israel Innovation Authority to enable Israeli companies to pilot select innovative technologies at Wisconsin utilities, according to the news release. These projects may include cyber-focused technologies, data analytics for utility applications and stormwater-focused technologies or applications. The agreement calls for Israeli startups to come to the U.S. to commercialize their products for the North American market. The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District will provide the facilities for those companies to develop this technology in a pilot program, and will have some preferential access to that technology if the pilot is successful, according to the release.

Other developments during the Walker mission, according to the news release, included:

  • Walker led an “Opportunity in Wisconsin” networking event with about a dozen executives of Israeli companies interested in establishing or expanding operations in the U.S. The companies learned about opportunities to expand their businesses in Wisconsin and the benefits of investing in the state.
  • Walker took part in a “Reverse Pitch for Innovation” networking event led by The Water Council, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District that showcased how Wisconsin’s water technology resources could be of benefit to Israeli companies.
  • The governor met with leaders of Start-Up Nation Central, a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening Israel’s innovation ecosystem, to discuss potential collaboration and partnerships with Wisconsin entities.
  • The governor visited the Israeli operations of Astronautics Corporation of America, which is headquartered in Milwaukee.

In addition to the governor’s economic development activities, executives from five Wisconsin businesses who were part of the delegation took part in one-on-one meetings with potential business partners.

This was Walker’s second trade mission in the last two months, after missions to South Korea and Japan in September.

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