The WEP Research Center is funded by its industrial members, UWM and Marquette Universities, and the National Science Foundation.
The Water Equipment and Policy Research Center (WEP) is an Industry/University Collaborative Research Center operating under the auspices of the National Science Foundation (NSF). WEP is funded by a collaboration of industry members, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM), Marquette University and the National Science Foundation.
Industry members fund WEP research with annual fees of $50,000, 100% of which supports the projects selected by the Center’s members. Associate memberships are also available for small companies as defined by the federal government for purposes of SBIR grants. The annual associate membership fee is $10,000. Associate members have the rights of full members except in all voting matters, and the amount of any royalty for licensed use of products practices or procedures will be subject to negotiation.
The NSF expects all of its I/UCRCs to maintain at least $300,000 of industrial support through membership fees, at least six industrial members, and a plan to work toward self-sufficiency from NSF.
UWM and Marquette invest heavily in WEP through time spent managing and administering the Center. They also minimize the overhead accessed on research, which maximizes the industry funds that directly support the research and makes WEP industry’s most cost efficient model to access university research.
The National Science Foundation provides funding for the administration of the Center. In 2011 NSF committed to an initial five-year annual award of $40,000 to $80,000 depending on the level of to the WEP Research Center team.
NSF's investments in all I/UCRCs are intended to seed partnered approaches to new or emerging research areas, not to sustain the Centers indefinitely. When the initial five year grant expires, NSF funding may be extended at a reduced level of $35,000 annually for an additional five years. However, NSF support for WEP is limited to ten years. The Foundation intends for I/UCRCs gradually to become fully supported by university, industry, state, and/or other non-NSF sponsors. Over 80% of the centers established under the I/UCRC program continue on as successful centers without NSF funding.
In addition to the basic I/UCRC award, WEP and its researchers can compete for other NSF support for research and education projects. At any point—even at the end of its life cycle—NSF may provide funding to the Center under special arrangements involving joint participation by other NSF program offices. NSF supplemental support may include collateral programs such as a TIE project, whereby two or more Centers and their industrial members engage in a cooperative research project of interest to all parties (with NSF and industry sharing costs). Through programs such as GOALI (Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry), fellowships are offered to Center faculty, whereby the faculty member can spend time in a corporate research lab or factory, again with NSF sharing the cost. Other supplements to I/UCRC awards may be made in the form of joint sponsorship of projects with other federal agencies, Research Experiences for Undergraduates and other educational activities, workshops, and other purposes consistent with the goals of the Program.