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THE IDEA to form a water technology cluster in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana stems from an EPA initiative that recognizes the importance of harnessing regional expertise to encourage economic development, and environmental and human health protection.

THE SUCCESS of technology clusters is based on committed strategic partnerships among key organizations from seven area sectors: universities, large corporations, emerging companies, federal government, state government, local government, and economic development associations.

OUR REGION’s current resources and past successes in technology transfer highlight the capability to meet the demands required of today’s environmental technology development—initially in water technologies.

NOW IS THE TIME for the Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana region to come together to build and maintain a vibrant, technology-driven economy that influences positive change in the way we protect human health and the environment.


Identifying, educating, and facilitating solutions to current and emerging challenges in the water life cycle


Impacting the health of our community through water



Confluence is a concentration of interconnected organizations that work together to promote economic growth and technological innovation in the water space.  To harness the wealth of water technology innovation found in Southern Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Southeast Indiana, our leadership comes from organizations across our geographic Region.

  • Joe Sciabica, President, Universal Technology Company - Board President

  • William L. Scheyer, Chairman of the Board, Green Umbrella - Board Vice President

  • Verna Arnette, Deputy Director, Greater Cincinnati Water Works - Board Secretary

  • John Menninger, Principal, Stantech - Board Treasurer

  • Michele Simmons, Environmental Manager, City of Dayton Water Department

  • Oliver Lawal, CEO, Aquisense Technologies

  • Chris Palassis, Director of Sensor Development, Xylem

  • Scott Koorndyk, President, The Entrepreneurs Center

  • Dorothy Air, PhD, former Associate Sr. VP Entrepreneurial affairs, UC

  • Tina Odum, Solutions Architect, Badger Meter

  • George Sorial, PhD, Department Head, Professor, Engineering Research Center, UC

  • Ryan Welsh, Chief Engineer, Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati

Executive Director, Melinda Kruyer

Finance Director, Roger Smith


The History of Confluence


Regional technology innovation clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected firms – businesses, suppliers, and service providers – and supporting institutions – local government, business chambers, universities, investors, and others – that work together in an organized manner to promote economic growth and technological innovation. On January 18, 2011, EPA Administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, and SBA Administrator, Karen Mills, met at EPA’s research facility in Cincinnati to announce the launch of Confluence (the Water Technology Innovation Cluster) of Dayton/Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky/Southeast Indiana .

City of Dayton water plant on Chuck Wagner Lane. (Photo by Amelia Robinson, staff)

City of Dayton water plant on Chuck Wagner Lane. (Photo by Amelia Robinson, staff)

Over 160 leaders from the region, including the newly formed Confluence Board of Directors, were on hand for this announcement. For more information, click here.  For the press release and the video of the announcement, click here.

The idea to form a technology innovation cluster in this region stems from an EPA and SBA initiative that recognizes the importance of harnessing regional expertise – public utilities, research partners, and innovative business – to encourage economic development as well as environmental and human health protection.  This idea was embraced by the region, which saw an opportunity to build and maintain a vibrant, technology-driven economy that influences positive change in the way we protect human health and the environment.

In early 2010, EPA Cincinnati staff were charged with catalyzing the development of a public-private partnership focused on environmental technology innovation and commercialization. This charge follows the priorities of the EPA Administrator and the Agency’s Chief Financial Officer to support regional economic development efforts. EPA Cincinnati was selected for this initiative because of its rich research and development infrastructure to anchor the effort technically. SBA partnered with EPA to provide federal backing and help ensure success for these efforts.

UV treatment facility protects Cincinnati’s water and its citizens

After receiving this charge, EPA Cincinnati staff quickly initiated a number of studies and organized a number of briefings with leaders from the region.  The purpose of the studies and briefings was to investigate the potential for forming a technology innovation cluster in the greater Cincinnati area focused on water.  The response EPA received during the briefings was overwhelmingly positive and the region quickly formed a steering committee to spearhead the effort.  This committee drafted an initial vision and mission for the cluster and developed agendas for two stakeholder meetings, which EPA hosted at its facility on October 20, 2010 and January 12, 2011.  Approximately 60 stakeholders from regional universities, large corporations, emerging companies, Federal government, state government, local government, and economic development agencies attended each of these meetings.  Initial and final results from market analysis and patent mapping exercises were presented.  See 2010 U.S. Drinking Water Innovation Vendor Outlook – Report on the companies and market trends shaping innovation the U.S. drinking water sector and Mapping Report on Proposed Water Cluster in Cincinnati Region

During these meetings Stakeholders concluded that: (1) the region possesses unique strengths in the area of water technology; and (2) innovative water technologies appear to be a viable area for technology-based economic development given the current global water market.  Based on this assessment and the overwhelming interest in supporting this endeavor, they also agreed to proceed with the development of Confluence based on the Draft Framework and Operating Structure for the WTIC developed by the steering committee between October and January meetings. Finally they determined that the steering committee would serve as the basis for the initial Confluence Board of Directors, effective immediately.


Timeline of events:

April 15, 2010 – EPA Cincinnati Charged with Catalyzing the Development of a Public-private Partnership Focused on Environmental Technology Innovation and Commercialization

May, 2010 to present – Regional leaders briefings

October 20, 2010 – Stakeholder Meeting, Establishing a Regional Technology Innovation Cluster

January 12, 2011 – Stakeholder Meeting, Establishing a Water Technology Innovation Cluster

January 18, 2011 – Joint EPA and SBA Administrator Announcement of Confluence Startup


US EPA's Timeline of Water Technology in Cincinnati

water research cincinnati

What is a Cluster?


Cluster development (or cluster initiative or Economic Clustering) is the economic development of business clusters. The cluster concept has rapidly attracted attention from governments, consultants, and academics since it was first proposed in 1990 by Michael Porter. Many governments and industry organizations across the globe have turned to this concept in recent years as a means to stimulate urban and regional economic growth. As a result, a large number of cluster initiative organizations were started during the 1990s, and the trend continues. The first comprehensive study of cluster initiatives around the world was reported in the “Cluster Initiative Greenbook” published by Örjan Sölvell, Christian Ketels and Göran Lindqvist, with a foreword by Michael Porter. The report was presented at the annual meeting of The Competitiveness Institute, TCI, in Gothenburg in 2003. A follow up study in 2005 covered more than 1400 cluster initiative organizations across the globe.

While the purpose of cluster initiative organizations is to promote economic development within the cluster by improving the competitiveness of one or several specific business sectors, it is important to differentiate these public-private organizations from policy-making organizations at different levels, e.g., national government units such as the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and supranational bodies such as the OECD and the European Commission and from industry associations comprising firms within one business sector, e.g., biotech, steel.

More specifically, cluster initiatives are organizations or projects that are organized as collaborations between a diverse number of public and private sector actors, such as firms, government agencies, and academic institutions. Whereas lobbying policymakers may be one of the cluster initiative’s activities, cluster initiatives generally are involved in a broad range of activities, e.g. supply-chain development, market intelligence, incubator services, attraction of foreign direct investment, management training, joint R&D projects, marketing of the region, and setting technical standards.