State delegation meets with 100+ companies and organizations; signs agreements on Alzheimer’s research and water technology

MADISON, WI. April 22, 2015 – A delegation of state economic development leaders has returned to Wisconsin after a trade mission to Germany, Spain and France.

Members of the delegation on the Governor’s Trade Mission to Western Europe met with representatives of more than 100 companies and industry organizations in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, water technology and biotechnology. The meetings were a combination of business roundtables and one-on-one meetings with specific companies considering expanding in the U.S.

The trade mission had a twofold goal of helping Wisconsin companies grow their exports into Europe and encouraging European companies to invest in Wisconsin—either by opening a regional office in Wisconsin or by expanding or establishing operations in the state.

“We chose these three countries based on their alignment with Wisconsin’s sectors of strength,” said Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), which organized the trip. “I’m confident that the connections formed on this trade mission will pay dividends in terms of both inbound and outbound trade between Wisconsin and Europe.”

The 22-member delegation led by Governor Scott Walker included executives from seven Wisconsin companies, The Water Council, the Milwaukee 7 regional economic development organization and WEDC staff. Company executives engaged in targeted, one-on-one meetings with potential business partners, while Governor Walker and WEDC leaders met with European companies to discuss expansion or investment opportunities in Wisconsin. The delegation made stops in Hannover, Germany; Paris and Montpellier, France; and Bilbao, Spain.

Highlights of the mission included:

  • The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health signed a memorandum of understanding with the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases to collaborate on research efforts aimed at slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
  • The Water Council and WEDC signed an agreement with Veolia, a multinational company headquartered in Paris, to collaborate on a competition program for innovators and entrepreneurs in water technology. To be called “POW! Empowering Opportunities in Water,” the competition will be based at Milwaukee’s Global Water Center, where The Water Council is located.
  • WEDC leaders met in Bilbao with business leaders in sectors such as water technology, energy, aviation and information technology to share insights on how the industry strengths of Wisconsin aligned with those in Spain’s Basque region.
  • The delegation met in Montpellier with more than 30 French business leaders in in the bioscience and water technology sectors as part of a “Doing Business In Wisconsin®” event.
  • The delegation strengthened relationships with partners in Europe, including Germany Trade & Invest, the Basque Business Development Agency (SPRI); Invest Sud de France; ACLIMA, a cleantech and water technology organization; HEGAN, an aviation and aerospace cluster group; and GAIA, an organization covering the fields of electronics, information technology and telecommunications.
  • The delegation met with German companies at the Hannover Messe trade show, the world’s largest industrial fair. Governor Walker delivered a speech on free trade opportunities between the U.S. and the European Union. Wisconsin companies interested in growing their European exports met with potential partners, and WEDC business attraction staff met with companies attending the trade show to encourage investment in Wisconsin.
  • The delegation met with government leaders in the Basque Country, the German state of Lower Saxony, and Wisconsin’s sister state of Hesse to explore opportunities for collaboration in economic development.
  • Delegation members held numerous other one-on-one meetings to help Wisconsin companies expand their exports and to attract foreign direct investment in Wisconsin.

“We had a number of excellent meetings with our water technology partners in Montpellier,” said Dean Amhaus, president and CEO of The Water Council. “It was just about one year ago that we signed an memorandum of understanding with our partners, and we can already see how we’ve progressed from broad overviews to focused discussions on water technology innovation funds and small business development opportunities. Over the next five months we will be together three more times, which will help move these discussions to firm activities.”

“Interest in the U.S. market continues to grow among overseas corporations,” added Wisconsin delegation representative Jim Paetsch, vice president of the Milwaukee 7. “Trips like this one give us the opportunity to meet face-to-face with executives who are making decisions on where to place investments. Wisconsin has a good story to tell.”



About the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) leads economic development efforts for the state by advancing Wisconsin’s business climate. WEDC nurtures business growth and job creation by providing resources, technical support and financial assistance to companies, partners and communities in Wisconsin. Visit or follow WEDC on Twitter @_InWisconsin to learn more.