Lack  of clean  water is responsible  for more deaths in the world than war, a stark fact that has made global water access  a National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge—and  a potential  point of leadership  for researchers and business  innovators in Massachusetts. To help advance  that goal, the D’Amore-McKim  School of Business sponsored the second annual Symposium on Water Innovation in Massachusetts in June, bringing together business  leaders, policymak- ers, and academics  to explore opportunities in the emerging  clean water industry.

Northeastern researchers across disciplines—from  business and management to engineering  and science—are well positioned to play a major role in a statewide  initiative to create a water innovation cluster that will enable Massachusetts  to become the world leader in solving water- access issues across the globe.

Ron Whitfield, director  of DMSB’s  Business Sustainability Initiative and a SWIM symposium organizer, noted that the BSI promotes sustain- ability in research,  teaching, and service as well as in its collaborations with industry. Sustainable  business enterprises adopt strategies that define success  in terms of the “triple-bottom-line,” said Whitfield: environmentally responsible,  socially conscious, and financially successful. With the right technology  innovations, those kinds of businesses can succeed in leading  the state’s water initiative, he added.

Matthew Eckelman, assistant  professor  of civil and environmental engineering, co-chaired   an exhibition of some  of those new technolo- gies.  In addition to cutting-edge   ideas  developed  by more  than 30 companies,   the exhibition included  two from a College  of Engineering research  center, the Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats. Doctoral student Ali Ciblak and postdoc Lily Rajic, show- cased their work on solar-powered electrochemical technologies for groundwater treatment, while researchers  Annalisa Onnis-Hayden  and Loretta Fernandez presented on advanced  biological sensors for water contaminants, developed in Associate  Professor April Gu’s  lab.

Governor Deval Patrick, who opened the symposium, noted that a water-innovation cluster could advocate for its collective  interests and draw talent to the region along the lines of the state’s other successful research innovation clusters