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Xylem becomes first J-WAFS Research Affiliate

Global water technology company signs agreement with J-WAFS for directed research and support of student activities and other water-related initiatives.
Left to right: Xylem CEO Patrick Decker, MIT Associate Provost Karen Gleason, and J-WAFS Director John Lienhard celebrate the signing of the J-WAFS Research Affiliate agreement.
Left to right: Xylem CEO Patrick Decker, MIT Associate Provost Karen Gleason, and J-WAFS Director John Lienhard celebrate the signing of the J-WAFS Research Affiliate agreement.
Photo: David Sella

The Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) has announced the signing of its first corporate research affiliate agreement with Xylem Inc., a leading global water technology company with operations in more than 150 countries. Xylem recently joined the MIT Industrial Liaison Program (ILP), and this represents a significant step up in their engagement with the MIT community.

The signing ceremony, following a day of lab visits and discussions between Xylem and MIT thought leaders, was attended by J-WAFS and Xylem senior leadership, as well as MIT associate provost Karen Gleason and ILP representatives. 

J-WAFS was established by the MIT administration in 2014 as an Institute-wide effort to bring MIT’s unique strengths to bear on the many challenges of food and water supply. J-WAFS aims to improve the security, safety, and efficiency of the world’s water and food supplies and works to reduce environmental impact of water and food systems. 

At MIT, J-WAFS stimulates and coordinates water- and food-related research across the entire Institute, by connecting sponsors and collaborators to faculty members and research groups working on problems of mutual interest, and by managing large-scale research relationships. J-WAFS’ new research affiliate program offers companies the opportunity to partner with MIT around food and water research. The program is central to J-WAFS' efforts to engage across sector and disciplinary boundaries in solving real-world problems.

With headquarters in Rye Brook, New York, Xylem works globally to foster innovative solutions to meet the world’s water needs. Building on its base of industry-leading brands and water solutions, Xylem seeks to develop new technologies that will improve the way water is used, conserved, and re-used in the future. 

“As the world grapples with the challenges of climate change, resource scarcity, and economic development for a growing population, new solutions are needed to meet today’s urgent needs while building a sustainable future,” stated Xylem President and CEO Patrick Decker. “We are pleased to be working with MIT and tapping into the deep knowledge and innovative approaches to problem-solving that are hallmarks of this global institution. It is incumbent on all of us — individuals, private businesses, non-governmental organizations, academia, and governments — to work together to scope and solve these challenges.”

With coordination and guidance by J-WAFS, Xylem will start out by identifying and refining two to three research projects to sponsor. Additional projects will be undertaken over the duration of the three-year agreement. Potential research topics include sensors for water contaminants, distributed energy management, sustainability, and data analytics. 

John H. Lienhard V, director of J-WAFS and the Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Water at MIT, commented that “with this agreement, J-WAFS is furthering its role of providing resources to the MIT community, and thereby strengthening MIT’s ability to solve real problems in securing clean and plentiful water supplies around the world.”

Funding will also be directed to support the MIT Water Club. The leading student network on campus for water research and innovation activities, the club organizes conferences, lectures, research showcases, and entrepreneurship events addressing the most pressing issues in water technology, policy, and science. Interacting with MIT students is a priority for Xylem and beneficial for the students. “We greatly value not only the financial support, but also the access to Xylem professionals for mentorship, networking, and career opportunities,” explained Water Club president Brendan Smith, a doctoral student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Additional funds will support J-WAFS seed research grants and broad integrative J-WAFS activities such as studies, workshops, and conferences that engage industry, government agencies, and other research institutions around critical water issues.

“We greatly look forward to deepening MIT’s relationship with Xylem,” added Renee J. Robins, executive director of J-WAFS. “We bring to campus a partner whose exceptional experience in the water sector will contribute to meaningful collaborations around real-world water challenges.”

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