ASU innovation engine gets $15M to support future sustainability

Jan 31, 2024, 4:15 AM

Southwest Sustainability Innovation Engine from ASU wins $15M...

The engine is designed to combat climate change in the Southwest. Utah's Great Salt Lake, pictured above, has endured decades of doubt. The SSIE will work to turn climate issues into economic opportunities. (Shuttershock Photo)

(Shuttershock Photo)

PHOENIX — Federal officials awarded an ASU-led innovation initiative millions of dollars, federal officials said Monday.

The Southwest Sustainability Innovation Engine (SSIE) deploys new solutions to extreme regional dryness and heat. It will work to address water scarcity and ensure equitable water and energy access, according to the Biden administration.

The SSIE was one of 10 inaugural National Science Foundation Regional Innovation Engines to receive a $15 million federal investment. However, each of the NSF awardees will be eligible to receive upwards of $2 billion, the announcement said.

How will this benefit Arizona?

A Monday announcement from ASU said the effects of climate change are clear in the American Southwest, from extreme heat in Arizona to dwindling water resources in the region.

The Southwest Sustainability Innovation Engine uses climate challenges to “catalyze economic opportunity” by introducing high-wage industries to the Southwest and making the region a leader in:

– Carbon capture.
– Water security.
– Renewable energy.

Although ASU leads the engine, it’s ultimately a multi-institutional enterprise. That means ASU works with academic, community, nonprofit and industry partners across Arizona, Nevada and Utah.

Several Arizona politicians played critical roles in making the SSEI a reality, according to a Tuesday announcement from Sen. Mark Kelly and Reps. Greg Stanton and Ruben Gallego.

What to know about the Southwest Sustainability Innovation Engine

The $15 million investment will come to Arizona over the next two years.

Kelly, a lead negotiator of the CHIPS and Science Act, said Arizona is a national leader in climate solutions.

“I secured funding to supercharge innovation through programs like NSF’s Regional Innovation Engines,” Kelly said in a statement. He also said the SSEI will turn Phoenix into a hub for “critical research initiatives.”

Overall, it will boost Phoenix’s economy, tackle climate change and secure Arizona’s water future, Kelly added.

Stanton, who represents Arizona’s fifth Congressional district, said Valley innovation is improving in terms of both advanced manufacturing and climate change solutions.

“This historic investment will help ASU researchers and their regional partners advance cutting-edge technologies to improve sustainability and long-term climate resilience,” Stanton said in a statement.

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ASU innovation engine gets $15M to support future sustainability