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NSF Engines Initiative Partners with Industry Leaders to Drive Sustainable Innovation in the Southwest

The U.S. National Science Foundation has unveiled three new partners in the Arizona State University-led initiative focused on turning the challenges of the desert Southwest’s climate into economic opportunities. Ecolab, Hydrosat, and the U.S. Green Building Council have joined the NSF Engines: Southwest Sustainability Innovation Engine (SWSIE), a collaborative effort aiming to position the Southwest as a leader in carbon capture, water security, and renewable energy. This initiative brings together various stakeholders from academia, industry, and the community across Arizona, Nevada, and Utah to drive innovation and sustainable development in the region.

The announcement took place at an event hosted at Intel in Chandler, Arizona, where representatives from the National Science Foundation and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy gathered. Justina Gallegos, deputy director for industrial innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, highlighted the importance of investing in local communities to address climate change and economic challenges. The Southwest Sustainability Innovation Engine embodies a vision of fostering partnerships among different sectors to drive transformative change over the next decade.

Florence Rabanal, NSF Regional Innovation Engines program director, welcomed the new partners to SWSIE, emphasizing the program’s unique approach to accelerating research and solutions deployment to enhance U.S. competitiveness. The Regional Innovation Engines program, overseen by the NSF’s directorate for technology, innovation, and partnerships, aims to establish regional leadership in key areas outlined in the CHIPS and Science Act. SWSIE, recognized as one of the inaugural Regional Innovation Engines, has received initial funding of $15 million over the next two years, with the potential for renewal and additional funding to support long-term impact and growth.

Peter Schlosser, vice president and vice provost of ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, emphasized the importance of ensuring the Southwest thrives economically while prioritizing sustainability. The collaboration between academic, industry, and community partners through SWSIE signifies a concerted effort to drive innovation, create high-wage industries, and address pressing environmental challenges in the region. This initiative marks a significant step towards establishing the Southwest as a hub for sustainable innovation, technology, and policy, with the potential to drive positive change and economic growth in the region.

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