Newsletter 2016-10-18 09:59:51

M-WERC Fall 2016 Newsletter

From the Desk of the Executive Director

Summer is winding down, and the crisp breeze of autumn air begun to show itself as we head into the fourth quarter of the year. Since our last newsletter a number of exciting developments have happened at M-WERC. As members, it is in no small part that you are responsible for a number of the great accolades we have received and the bright future we have on the horizon.

As you are all well aware the fiscal year ended on June 30, and at M-WERC we are once again excited to share that FY16 was nothing short of a tremendous success. M-WERC finished the year with a slight net surplus and we will continue to build toward a successful FY17. We look toward greater opportunities for growth and the exciting developments, as well as challenges that will bring for the organization into the next year. To answer many of those challenges and opportunities we have grown our staff over this last year and continue looking for other ways to expand our influence in the energy, power, and control industries.

Throughout FY16 and the integration of a pre-planning grant with WEDC, M-WERC was instrumental in starting to build out a completed redesign to repurpose the former Eaton building into a new EIC multipurpose workspace.

Once finished, this newly designed area will enable start-ups to have access to mentors, M-WERC member companies and service providers.  Through hours of intense work within M-WERC, this design is destined to be a reality in the near future.

During the last fiscal year, working in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Energy as well as the Milwaukee Sustainability Office, M-WERC has been a part of the growing trend throughout Milwaukee to shift the tone of building in the city toward more energy efficient and green centered building projects.

In order to further foster this growth, M-WERC has continued working with EPRI and We Energies throughout the city to showcase the strides that have been made in the eco-enviro-tech zone through microgrid technology merging with distributed generation and the central power grid. These reciprocal relationships allow for innovation and controls to work hand in hand and create the ability older utilized technology to work with emerging fields.

Over the past quarter we continued to further the WMEP extension program to assist with industry roadmaps, in doing so we have implemented market strategies and showcased designs for more energy storage and efficiency as well as distributed generation enhancements.  This is quickly becoming the crossroads where industry, government and non-government entities implement these strategies and advance the energy, power and control marketplace in the future.

M-WERC has grown to 86 members, supporters and partners and is in a great position to roll out our second strategic plan. This three-year plan will enable us to move toward further growth by linking innovation with technological innovation. Our next venture is to move toward pilot scale sites for hardware demonstration and community engagement.

Through EPRI and We Energies’ partnership with M-WERC we are making next generation facilities not only a possibility but also an attractant for the community to recruit new companies in need of larger power consumption as well as a commitment to clean energy through the use of the detailed design and implementation of the microgrid program.

The microgrid program is a first of its kind in the United States to link distributed generation to the central grid and gain the support of an investor owned utility to attract and maintain industrial consumption at this level.

The year to come shows a lot of potential for M-WERC and our partners. We will continue to grow and innovate through outreach and solid relationship building within the energy, power, and control community as well as working through non-profit networks to spread the message of innovation throughout the Midwest.


Alan Perlstein
Executive Director and CEO

Mid-West Energy Research Consortium

WERCBench Labs Update

Nine start-up teams from three different countries (as well as one based here in Milwaukee) will take place in the 2016 fall program of WERCBench Labs.

This year’s teams bring technologies that range from how to better integrate solar power systems to smart stoves carrying a multi-solution platform for developing countries.

Thanks to the support of the state of Wisconsin through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), M-WERC is able to run and fund this unique start-up program. Each team will receive a $10,000 grant at the beginning of the program. Teams that meet all program expectations and complete the program will receive an additional $10,000 in the form of an investment, using a royalty-based financing mechanism.

“WEDC congratulates the new teams and we look forward to seeing the progress of these entrepreneurs as they work closely with some of the top mentors in the field to spur innovation,” said Tricia Braun, deputy secretary and chief operating officer of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization.

“WERCBench Labs is a great example of how WEDC can help extend the investment of private industry to support future long-term competitiveness and economic growth in Wisconsin.”

“We’re especially excited about they way this year’s class of entrepreneurs aligns with M-WERC’s mission to support the energy, power and controls industries here in Wisconsin,” said M-WERC Executive Director Alan Perlstein. 

“This second group of start-up companies and cutting-edge technologies is also a great complement to the class that graduated in August,” said Jeff Anthony Managing Director of WERCBench Labs.  Anthony will lead and coordinate all of the efforts of the program, which started October 6 and ends in January 2017. 

New this year, WERCBench Labs will partner with The Center for Technology Commercialization, The Commons and the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. The WERCBench Labs team is also exploring future partnerships to support the building and testing of emerging technologies. 

Participants in the program will also have access to M-WERC’s network of more than 90 world-class mentors. Teams involved in this years program include:

Revolt has invented a proprietary inverter technology that will enable homes and businesses to go off-grid at a dramatically lower cost.

Iconac helps water utilities and district heating/cooling systems solve the buried infrastructure information gap through their Toanl Pipe Assessment technology.

Improovment is developing sensor-based technology providing a solution to provide Manufacturers insight into the utilization and flow of their work cells and plant floor. 

Navasard Technologies invented PURESINE, a fully-featured solar system in the form factor of a solar panel with a potential to maximize efficiency and improve returns on investments.

Process Machine, by bringing new technologies to the industry provides technology solutions for Smart Grid, Smart Building, Water & Waste Water, Smart Rail, Smart City applications. 

SciArt, LLC provides an cloud based design generation tool for design engineers to optimize strength and functionality or projects.

STEMhero Empowers students and connects teachers to solve the water and energy crisis.

Terraoak provides innovative clean tech solutions through a patent-pending stove that significantly reduces smoke-emissions and generates electricity from heat.

Hydroponics Innovation is working on a technology to create an intelligent controlling system that regulates factors such as heat, lighting, nutrients and humidity to automatically gain a desired production of crops. 

More information on WERCBench Labs and a preview of future efforts can be found at


M-WERC announces new Technology Innovation platform
Technology Innovation focus includes public & private sector partners

Since 2009 M-WERC’s has worked to identify pre-competitive research opportunities based on technology roadmaps. Since that time M-WERC has sponsored a number of research activities that develop new technologies to drive the future of the Energy, Power & Control industries.

M-WERC is in the process of updating our website so make sure to check back often for updates and improvements.

During the September open member meeting panelists from the UW-Madison, Briggs & Stratton, DRS and M-WERC highlighted efforts to further align the interests of industry and academia.

“M-WERC’s activity and participation in research activities with member companies like Briggs & Stratton and university partners like UW-Madison, UW-Milwaukee and Marquette has helped everyone involved realize that there are more existing skill sets that have gone under the radar by industry,” said Doug Shears, Director of Strategic Development at Briggs & Stratton. “We’re excited about M-WERC’s involvement in making those connections and the leadership and vision they have shown as it relates to driving technology innovation in the region.”

M-WERC Executive Director Alan Perlstein echoed Shears’ sentiments and the Consortium’s commitment to helping initiate more dialog when it comes to research projects.

“We’re committed to helping discover, develop and transfer the new technology products and systems required to enable our Members to be leaders in their field,” said M-WERC Executive Director and CEO Alan Perlstein.

“Our research combines the leading faculty and laboratory capabilities of the region’s top Engineering Universities and leading Technical Colleges to conduct research and deploy new products and create jobs in the energy, power and control fields.”

M-WERC continues partnership in Better Buildings Challenge

On September 21, executives from M-WERC participated in the launch of the City of Milwaukee’s Better Buildings Challenge program at Zimmerman Architectural Studios. The program is modeled after similar programs in Los Angeles and Atlanta.

The launch event featured a number of partners including Trane, PACE Equity, Compass Properties, Zimmerman Architectural Studios, Franklin Energy, Transwestern, MATC, Hanging Gardens, US Green Building Council, the City of Milwaukee’s Environmental Collaboration Office (ECO) and Lakefront Brewery.M-WERC was on hand to answer questions and support efforts to connect technologies with customers.

For more than three months, M-WERC has been working to develop a database of both local and national technologies focused on energy efficiency and building operations. M-WERC’s Kyle Lechnir leads the effort out the Consortium's downtown headquarters.

“In addition to developing the technology database for the Better Building Challenge, we started hosting what will become a series of workshops with local players interested in building efficiency,” said Lechnir. “We have also started a Construction and Engineering working group to bring our members together by effectively supporting the program with industry expertise on energy efficiency retrofit workshops and energy efficiency technology research.”

Anyone interested in learning more about M-WERC’s Construction and Engineering working group, their schedule or how to participate should contact Kyle Lechnir at

“Our focus is on connecting emerging technologies with companies that can support commercialization,” said M-WERC Executive Director and CEO Alan Perlstein. “This program plays perfectly into our vision to once again make Milwaukee a manufacturing powerhouse.”

The program, which is being partially funding by a federal grant, gives commercial building owners in the city access to energy audits and incentives to cut energy use.

The goal is to enlist 200 buildings in the city and cut energy use by 20 percent by 2020. There are currently more than 25 buildings enrolled in the program and 11 that have already completed their energy assessments.

Member Highlight – Johnson Controls  

Johnson Controls has been a longtime supporter of M-WERC. Headquartered in nearby Glendale, Wisconsin, this fortune 500 Company employs nearly 170,000 people worldwide in more than 1,300 offices.

Most in line with the work done by M-WERC, the Building Efficiency unit of Johnson Controls works tirelessly to ensure that their customers are fully supported throughout the life cycle of a building project. This unit operates out of nearly 500 branch offices in more than 150 countries.

Whether it is ventilating, air-conditioning, refrigeration, or security systems, Johnson Control’s Building Efficiency unit caters to the needs of more than a million customers to increase energy efficiency and lower their operating costs.

With more than $10.5 billion in sales in 2015, the number of projects that they have been involved in is quite staggering. A noticeable example from last year included cooling the 64.5 million square foot, Shadadiyah Campus of Kuwait University with centrifugal chillers, supporting the world’s most energy-efficient campus.

M-WERC is glad to work with such a worldwide innovator and look forward to continuing a relationship that fosters growth in the energy, power, and controls community for years to come.

October 25-26 – Iowa Energy Summit – Altoona, IA

October 27 – Northwest Side Community Development Corporation’s “30th Street Corridor Like You’ve Never Seen It Before” – Economic Development Forum – Milwaukee, WI

November 1 - WERCBench Labs “Open Innovation in the Energy Industry” Forum – Milwaukee, WI

November 1 – Empowering Customers & Cities - Charting the Course for the Future of Energy – Chicago, IL

November 9-10 – Solar Power Conference & Expo – Chicago, IL

November 16-17 – Wisconsin Technology Council’s Early Stage Symposium – Madison, WI

December 6 – New North Summit – Green Bay, WI 

December 13-15 – Power-Gen – Orlando, FL

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