Chicago, IL


Build to Scale Program

Venture Challenge


Project Name

Upstream Innovation: Accelerator for Digital Utility Transformation


Award Amount

Federal Share

Local Match




The Upstream Innovation Accelerator program will leverage learnings from Current’s EDA-funded the “Inclusive Blue Economy Strategy” project to build a Chicago-based water technology accelerator. Upstream Innovation will develop a pipeline of water technology companies over the three-year grant period through specialized training and business development support to help innovators bring their ideas to fruition. Upstream Innovation will recruit a range of digital water solutions startups, small-to medium-enterprises (SMEs), and diverse entrepreneurs. Upstream Innovation will provide these companies with rigorous training and mentorship to help them secure local investments and partnerships with utilities. Current will leverage its partners—including Evergreen Climate Innovations, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, the City of Chicago Department of Water Management, and members of the Current Research Consortium—to provide resources that will help participating businesses thrive. Upstream Innovation will grow and attract businesses and jobs in Illinois and has the potential to catalyze growth of the broader regional blue economy.