Illinois is home to nation-leading research institutions, innovative utilities, and powerful national labs – all of which are generating novel solutions to local and global water challenges. However, only a small percentage of these solutions make it to market. Current and our partners want to understand why and are developing a water technology accelerator to build the kinds of programs that bridge the gap from idea to impact.
With funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, Current’s accelerator will help innovators and entrepreneurs develop crucial skills and networks for building their businesses and bringing their ideas to market. Leveraging research from our recently released Upstream Illinois strategy, Current aims to grow Illinois’ inclusive blue economy. Key to that growth is supporting new water – technology startups and enterprises, especially those representing diverse communities.
Current will not be doing this work alone. We will leverage the region’s many accelerators and entrepreneurship organizations and knit together existing offerings, creating new programs only where gaps exist.
Partnering with us in this effort is Further Faster, the lead design consultant for the accelerator. The Further Faster team is made up of experts in program design and entrepreneurship. Their experience includes developing multiple accelerator programs and supporting individual innovators. When asked why they decided to partner on this accelerator program, Further Faster replied, “Our commitment [is] to the innovations that will transform the world and make life more equitable, just, and sustainable for humanity. Water is essential to our future.”
Current is also looking forward to the important insight on accelerators that Further Faster brings.
“Many programs in the startup ecosystem incentivize founders to prioritize false indicators of success. Winning pitch competitions does not mean the founders who earn the prize also have the ability to build and scale those ventures,” they said. Their understanding of startups and the challenges founders face will be critical for designing an accelerator that will properly equip innovators for success.
We will spend 2023 designing the program and will launch cohorts in 2024 and 2025. Our goal is to have water startups and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs):
- Commercialize their products.
- Secure investments and gain patents.
- Develop leadership skills, build a team, and create jobs.
This will help strengthen Illinois’ blue economy and boost sustainability, equity, and inclusion.
We’ll continue to share updates on the water technology accelerator program. If you, or someone you know, are interested in partnering with us, please don’t hesitate to connect with us!
Click here for more information on our water technology accelerator.