Grundfos and BlueTechValley respond to the article “How Milwaukee Could Transform Itself Into the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Fresh Water” published June 7, 2013 in The Atlantic Cities.
As an organization committed to supporting the development and commercialization of water technology, we at BlueTechValley were heartened to read reporter Sophie Quinton’s article, “How Milwaukee Could Transform Itself Into the ‘Silicon Valley’ of Fresh Water” published June 7 in The Atlantic Cities.
We agree that industry clusters are crucial to solving water scarcity, as well as the energy and food production issues associated with it. That’s why we established the BlueTechValley Initiative in Fresno, Calif., back in 2011.
Central California’s San Joaquin Valley, home to Fresno and a number of rural and suburban communities, has a unique ecosystem that sustains a robust culture of water innovation. The San Joaquin Valley is the BlueTechValley. Its water-scarce climate fuels the need for extreme water efficiency, making it the ideal place to test, develop and commercialize new technology.
Providing structure and entry to the many assets and resources available to entrepreneurs and innovators, the Valley has its own Water, Energy and Technology Center (The WET). Managed by the non-profit Central Valley Business Incubator and located on the campus of Fresno State, WET houses a highly advanced hydraulic laboratory, operated by the International Center for Water Technology. Here, entrepreneurs and innovators not only have the ability to test new products, but they can also access business and industry support systems to aid in the commercialization of these technologies. The purpose of this regional initiative is to spur growth and help turn entrepreneurial visions into real-world solutions for managing our finite resources: water and energy.
The BlueTechValley is keenly focused on fostering innovations in agriculture, an extremely important sector to the area. Indeed, the Valley produces the majority of California’s $45 billion agricultural output and has been called the “Food Basket of the World.”
California State University, Fresno, one of two universities in the BlueTechValley, leverages its 800 acre diversified farming operation in support of the Agricultural Water and Energy Program. Partnering with the irrigation industry and the local utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, the program provides full-scale demonstrations of water- and energy-efficient technologies. These installations form the basis for better utilizing farm resources, making the perfect platform for educational activities that provide both students and growers with field-scale applications. Once completed, staff will use the automated systems to monitor surface and groundwater sources, apply water to individual fields, and evaluate soil and water status in real time across the entire farm.
The BlueTechValley Water Conference, now in its fourth year, is quickly becoming a marquee event in water innovation, sharing regional successes and learning from global industry leaders. This year, the conference focused on the role of water-efficient technologies in securing future food supply. Academic, professional and public leaders converged in Fresno to discuss sustainable agricultural production.
The BlueTechValley represents just about every water source, use, need and quality and is a living laboratory which supports the innovation necessary to solve the world’s growing water and energy crises. Having established ourselves as a water hub with global influence and impact, we will continue to leverage the region’s unique environment to create breakthroughs in water technology.
Although currently in its infancy, water technology is on the verge of great progress. Thanks to water clusters like the budding hub in Milwaukee and our established ecosystem in the BlueTechValley, we are confident that we can learn to do more with less in the face of water and energy scarcity.
Henrik Skov Laursen
Chair of the BlueTechValley Steering Committee
Director of the Grundfos Silicon Valley Innovation Office