Key Technology Area

Blue Economy
Water Technology


American Family Insurance
AO Smith
Argonne National Laboratory
Black & Veatch
Black Island Ventures
Cara Collective
Chicago State University
City Colleges of Chicago
Cleveland Water Alliance
Current Innovation NFP
Discovery Partners Institute
Entrepreneur's Center
Evergreen Climate Initiative
Freshwater Advisors
Fund for Our Economic Future
HIRE 360
Illinois Institute of Technology
Illinois Science & Technology Coalition
Imagine H20
lllinois Ventures
Marquette University
Mazarine Ventures
Metropolitan Council
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago
NEW Water
Northwestern University
NSF I-Corps Hub Great Lakes Region
Purdue University
S2G Ventures
State of Illinois
State of Ohio
The Ohio State University
The University of Chicago
The University of Cincinnati
True North Venture Partners
University of Illinois Chicago
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
University of Minnesota
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Wayne State University
Whirlpool Corporation
World Business Chicago
WRTP Big Step


RENEW will advance our nation’s capacity for innovations in the circular water economy through research, translation, and workforce activities. The Engine will discover, develop, and deploy technologies that (1) attract water-intensive manufacturers to the Great Lakes region while maintaining environmental health; (2) recover valuable resources (like energy, critical minerals and nutrients) from wastewater streams and convert them to wealth; and 3) create an innovation ecosystem to foster employment, ownership, and wealth-building opportunities for people and communities, especially those most in need of economic opportunity.

This Engine focuses on developing sustainable technologies, practices and systems in the ecoregion that is home to 90% of the freshwater in the United States. Located around a population of 40 million residents in the US & Canada, this collaboration across academia, industry, workforce providers, community organizations and public leaders seeks to serve as a launching pad for water intensive industries growth in a sustainable manner.

The NSF Engine has an initial region of service that spans three states – Illinois, Ohio and Wisconsin – with several anchor points including Chicago, Cleveland, and Milwaukee as priority areas of impact. The NSF Engine builds a strong ecosystem including core partners with representation from the manufacturing and energy sectors, national labs and universities (including public and private four-year institutions and two-year institutions), economic and workforce development organizations, entrepreneurship support organizations, non-profits, philanthropies and investment firms that are essential to the NSF Engine’s success.

Recognizing the relatively nascent nature of water resource recovery and circular water economy technology markets, the NSF Engine centers the workforce development efforts around training and education programs aimed at preparing future innovators, workers, and entrepreneurs in the emerging space of a circular water economy.