National Center for Environmental Research (NCER)

Regional technology innovation clusters are geographic concentrations of interconnected firms—businesses, suppliers, service providers and supporting institutions, local government, business chambers, universities, investors, and others—that work together in an organized manner to promote technological innovation and economic growth. In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took the initiative to design and develop a water-related technology innovation cluster in the Greater Cincinnati region.

The following year, the EPA and the Small Business Administration announced the launch of a Cincinnati-based organization called “Confluence, a Water Technology Innovation Cluster (WTIC).” Confluence was designed to cover a 100-mile regional radius comprising Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Southeast Indiana.

Since its formation, Confluence has made an impact on the region it serves. In 2012 the EPA began a collaboration with Urbanalta, a Cincinnati-based small business, to develop novel measurement methods and technology for detecting and monitoring combined sewer overflows. The company agreed to let the EPA take the lead on a joint patent for which Urbanalta will be granted an exclusive license to use the technology. Urbanalta is currently adding design engineers to its research and development team and building preproduction prototypes of a Flowing Water Scope™.

Confluence also provided technical and professional support for local small business startup CitiLogics, including technology in the lab, inclusion in local business accelerator UpTech, testing at the Northern Kentucky Water District, and signing its first contract with a local water utility, Greater Cincinnati Water Works, allowing the company to hire its first employee in only two years. CitiLogics is bringing research dollars into the region, generating $300,000 in research grants in 2013, $500,000 in 2014, and an expected $2.5 million in 2015.

Confluence worked with Bacterial Robots in Cincinnati and its subsidiary, Pilus Energy, to successfully develop genetically enhanced bacteria with the specific function of remediating wastewater while creating energy. Tauriga Science, Inc. in Danbury, Connecticut, acquired Pilus Energy in January 2014 for $2,000,000. Tauriga is currently launching product performance trials in Cincinnati in cooperation with the EPA and the Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewer District.

As a direct result of the establishment of Confluence, the University of Cincinnati is moving forward with “Water Clusters” as one of its five focus research areas over the next five years and is investing between $12 and $15 million. This will provide the University with the opportunity to hire six new faculty members and help in creating a fertile future workforce around water in support of Confluence.

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Mid-Atlantic