The Claude Laval Water and Energy Technology Center (WET Center) at California State University, Fresno is a well-known generator of regional water and energy-related businesses. Now, it’s also a partner with an incubator in Israel doing much the same thing and recently was presented as a model program at an international symposium in France.

The WET Center was established in 2006 on the Fresno State campus as part of a partnership between the university’s International Center for Water Technology (ICWT) and the Central Valley Business Incubator. The goal is to provide space for up to five new businesses at a time to develop in the energy and water fields.

Water and energy were identified as vital needs in the central San Joaquin Valley, but also as potential sources of new, well-paid jobs in the region with worldwide marketing potential. To help underscore that global connection, the ICWT in 2007 hosted an international water technology symposium at Fresno State and already is planning another for May 2010.

“Through many years of university-industry partnerships, we have been able to cultivate an international reputation for innovation and resourcefulness in our water technology research,” said Dr. David Zoldoske.

He is director of the ICWT and the Center for Irrigation Technology at Fresno State and recently was appointed as the California State University system’s top water-policy adviser.

“The WET Center is just one more way our campus turns our regional needs into opportunities to help at home and far away, too,” Zoldoske said.

Most recently, the WET Center in Fresno and the Kinrot Incubator near the Sea of Galilee, signed a cooperative agreement.

Kinrot CEO Assaf Barnea was enthusiastic about the partnership’s proposal for joint research and development based on innovative technology. But he said a key component is marketing water technology.

Barnea said, “The American incubator is like an industrial park, and the firms in our portfolio that want to meet other firms will find partners willing to listen there.

“We'll join in meeting potential investors,” Barnea added. “The water technology market is very conservative, and you have to form close ties in order to make sales."

Kinrot has another agreement that allows Israeli start-up companies to try out pilot projects using Los Angeles Department of Water & Power facilities.

In early December, Central Valley Business Incubator CEO Craig Scharton made a presentation about the WET Center at the Water4health® symposium in Lyon, France. The gathering’s goal was promoting partnerships throughout the water sector by bringing them together to learn about a range of innovative solutions to some of the world’s water challenges.

“Water requires conscientious supervision, management and care," said Scharton. "One of many critical resources, water is now beginning to attract the attention its importance deserves.”