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 .
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.
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