New Energy Innovation Center Aims to Make Milwaukee a Global Hub for the Industry

New Energy Innovation Center Aims to Make Milwaukee a Global Hub for the Industry.

State awards Mid-West Energy Research Consortium $900,000 in grants for project.

MILWAUKEE, Aug. 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Officials from the Mid-West Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC) joined Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and other key leaders today to formally unveil plans for the new Energy Innovation Center (EIC), a facility that will accelerate the development of innovative technology in the energy, power and control industry.

The center is housed in the Century City Tower at 4201 N. 27th St. in Milwaukee (formerly Eaton Corp.). Its mission is to affirm and leverage the Midwest’s standing as a global hub for the industry by providing a collaborative space designed to attract, grow and develop companies. The center will bring together industry and academic scientists, engineers and business leaders to conduct joint research, jump-start innovative technologies, transition prototype products to the commercial stage, and nurture startup companies.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has awarded M-WERC more than $850,000 in grants for the center. The project also received a $50,000 grant from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. In 2013, the City of Milwaukee also provided a $122,000 grant for energy-saving upgrades at the building as part of its Me2 Program.

“With the Energy Innovation Center, M-WERC will establish a fully integrated ecosystem for companies, individuals, and a variety of economic development and academic organizations that will catalyze energy, power and control technology and industry development,” said Alan S. Perlstein, executive director and CEO of M-WERC. “This organization was founded to support and build on our region’s energy, power and control industry cluster, and the center will focus on supporting and growing companies to fill industry gaps.”

Construction on the $9.6 million center, which will occupy 65,000 square feet of the Century City Tower, is expected to begin in September. A grand opening is targeted for September 2015. A second construction phase is expected to begin around October 2015 and be completed by mid-2016.

“Just as the Global Water Center has put Milwaukee and Wisconsin on the map when it comes to water technology, we believe the Energy Innovation Center has the same potential for the energy, power and control sector,” said Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. “Southeastern Wisconsin already is home to some world-leading companies and research universities in the sector. This is an opportunity to harness that innovation all in one place.”

“The Energy Innovation Center—like the Global Water Center—is part of WEDC’s overall strategy of making key investments in the most competitive and highest priority industries in Wisconsin,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “We will evaluate similar investments in areas such as food and beverage, aviation and aerospace and other powerful industry sectors as we continue to help companies grow and create more jobs in Wisconsin.”

“The close collaboration between industry and universities made possible by the Energy Innovation Center will help fuel Milwaukee’s growth as a global hub for the energy, power and control sector,” said Dr. Michael Lovell, president of Marquette University and chairman emeritus of the M-WERC. “The support announced today will pay dividends not only for our students, faculty and partners in business and industry, but also for the future economic vitality of our region.”

Added Brett Peters, dean of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s College of Engineering & Applied Science: “Having these new resources right here in Milwaukee, where UWM’s microgrid testbed is just getting under way, offers tremendous potential, especially for industries in Wisconsin, to get in on the ground floor of a profitable emerging market in distributed energy systems. We are excited about the work ahead.”

“WHEDA is delighted to have played an early role in collaboration with our partners at WEDC to make this critical project a reality,” added WHEDA Executive Director Wyman Winston. “The Energy Innovation Center has tremendous potential to help fulfill one of the major goals of our Transform Milwaukee initiative, to return employers and much-needed jobs to the once-prosperous 30th Street Industrial Corridor and improve neighborhoods in the area.”