National Science Foundation Proposal

The SI STC is supporting a Regional Innovation Engines proposal to the U.S. National Science Foundation in 2023. Leading a team of partners including ASU, the University of Utah, the University of Nevada Las Vegas, the Desert Research Institute, Maricopa Community Colleges, and more than 30 companies, non-profits, and local governments, the SI STC is seeking $160 million in funding to create a Sustainability Innovation Engine for the Southwest (SIES).

SIES is a proposed innovation ecosystem aimed at catalyzing and transforming the Southwest into a national and international hub for reaching net zero carbon and water sustainability goals.

Energy and water transitions are urgent in the Southwest, which is experiencing some of the most severe impacts of climate change in the nation. As the population grows and new industries become established in the region, it is vital to secure the energy and water supply to ensure that anchor industries can adapt to changing environmental conditions.

Given the urgency of the problem and the vast number of individual projects and organizations focused on net zero and water security solutions, the region is ripe to become a center of innovation for a new economy through strategic visioning, coordination, user-inspired research and translation, and workforce development.

SIES will create a regional hub to develop, launch, and scale vibrant water-energy sustainability technologies, governance, and infrastructure solutions from ideation to implementation. By coalescing distributed partnerships into a unified innovation ecosystem, we will be able to:

  1. Catalyze co-innovations in technology and governance to overcome limitations to community and economic development for just and equitable water and energy futures.
  2. Expand infrastructure and capacity for inclusive knowledge translation through startups and IP licensing, enabling continued and sustainable economic and population growth.
  3. Prepare a diverse, STEM-enabled sustainability innovation workforce that creates new businesses, meets the needs of existing employers, and provides inclusive access to high wage STEM jobs by leveraging innovations in education and training at scale.