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2019 FLC Midwest/Southeast Regional Meeting Draws Federal Laboratory and Water Technology Innovators to Milwaukee

Midwest/Southeast Regional Meeting Recap 2019

Last week, the FLC’s Midwest and Southeast regions were pleased to welcome technology transfer (T2) professionals from both regions to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for their 2019 joint annual meeting. For the past few years, both regions have greatly benefitted from coming together to learn T2 best practices and share the successful commercialization strategies that federal laboratories throughout the Midwest and Southeast have accomplished. With nearly 60 T2 experts in attendance, this year’s joint regional meeting provided a welcome space to strengthen the T2 community.

Wisconsin is home to numerous Fortune 500 companies, award-winning manufacturing firms, and a water technology hub that includes over 238 companies.  The host city of Milwaukee provided an outstanding opportunity for attendees to engage with the Wisconsin water technology ecosystem as well as introduced to other core Wisconsin industries, including food and beverage, energy, power and controls and more. To kick things off on Wednesday, industry representatives speaking on behalf of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) provided an overview of the industrial and research and development (R&D) landscape of the surrounding region—pinpointing technology areas ideal for making business connections.

“Universally, the key takeaway or ‘watershed’ moment from the event was that when it comes to companies’ work in the area of water technology, they are actually seeking connections with the federal labs on a broad range of topics, from materials to coatings, from sensors to artificial intelligence,” stated Karen Frost, Vice President of Economic Development for The Water Council. “For our companies, it doesn’t have to be ‘wet’ to be water.”

Wednesday continued with a session from Jim Zarzycki of the FLC’s National Advisory Council (NAC) explaining the history of the FLC’s Technology Focus Areas (TFA) initiative, and a Tradespace Analysis session on autonomous systems (AS) and water technologies presented by Kevin Barquinero, FLC TFA program manager. Each session dove deeper into the TFA initiative and the purpose of bridge organizations, and also focused on the region’s water technology and related needs that can provide possible collaborative opportunities with laboratories that may possess relevant intellectual property. The day ended with a regional awards ceremony luncheon and a tour of the Global Water Center.

A major portion of this year’s regional meeting covered the FLC’s TFA initiative, shining a spotlight on both AS and water technologies. The FLC was pleased to co-host these special topic sessions and panels with The Water Council (TWC), a nonprofit organization with headquarters in Milwaukee. While TWC’s mission is centered on driving economic development, attracting and connecting world-class talent, and supporting water-focused technology innovation, its larger goal is to secure freshwater resources for the world by driving solutions to the numerous industries that need and use a large amount of water.

The second day of the meeting began with an overview of the FLC/TWC partnership from TWC Vice President Karen Frost. The FLC was pleased to partner with TWC for this year’s joint regional meeting. TWC previously partnered with the FLC during the FLC’s Water Innovation Forum in 2016, and the organizations have since mutually supported each other’s water-related initiatives and activities.

“The Water Council is pleased to continue our partnership with the FLC and finding paths of meaningful engagement and opportunities between the labs and our member companies. We know this will be a ‘long game,’ but are confident that with continued collaboration will come tangible industry/lab partnerships.”- Karen Frost, Vice President of Economic Development, The Water Council

Continuing Thursday’s sessions, Vanessa Llanas, Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin’s Regional Representative for Southeastern Wisconsin, provided an overview and update on the Water Technology Acceleration Act. Attendees learned of potential grants funding and project opportunities for federal laboratories and state and regional entities. Thursday afternoon featured an industry panel of TWC member companies; a lunch innovation keynote address from Jessica M. Silvaggi, Director of Technology Commercialization at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Research Foundation; and a session on federal laboratory water research programs.

In addition to this year’s TFA sessions and general FLC updates from organization leadership, the FLC honored the 2019 Midwest and Southeast regional award winners for their exceptional T2 efforts. This year’s winners are a shining representation of the commitment necessary to achieve lab-to-market success.

Images from this year’s joint regional meeting are located on the FLC Flickr channel.

To view and download session presentations from the meeting, click here.

For more information about this year’s Midwest/Southeast joint regional meeting, visit mwsemeeting.federallabs.org.

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