Clemson teams with Aiken to build green economy
CLEMSON — Clemson University’s partnership with Aiken breaks new ground in demonstrating how innovative technologies can become economic generators at the small-city scale.
Details of the new Urban Ecology Center will be presented Friday at the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce “First Friday Means Business” breakfast from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. at Newberry Hall.
More than 100 Aiken-area business leaders are expected to hear featured speaker Gene Eidson, director of Clemson University’s Institute of Computational Ecology, who will direct the new center.
“Aiken has embraced the challenge of rethinking how small cities of the future can be innovative, entrepreneurial and resilient,” said Eidson. “These attributes typify leading technology centers and high-tech hubs and make Aiken an ideal small city for a startup-technology corridor to attract high-tech talent and entrepreneurial firms.”
Clemson University and the Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce are anchor institutions of the Urban Ecology Center. Key partners will include the City of Aiken, Aiken County, the University of South Carolina-Aiken and Aiken Technical College.
The center’s mission is to infuse sustainability-based research, education and public outreach into the small city environment and its vital economic sectors. The center will promote an urban “live, work and learn” lifestyle and embrace innovation to engage the greater community in relevant social, economic and environmental issues; and assist the city with developing an urban technology corridor.
The center will be housed by the Aiken Chamber of Commerce for up to two years, with support from the city, public-private partnerships and grants for research, education and outreach.
A strong five-year working partnership between the Institute of Computational Ecology and Aiken formed the foundation for the Urban Ecology Center. The city has engaged Clemson to develop a conceptual master plan to restore Sand River and to implement innovative ways to reduce the impact of stormwater in Hitchcock Woods, one of the nation’s largest urban forests.
“Aiken and Clemson University developed one of the country’s most important green infrastructure projects, and showed the potential of Intelligent River technologies,” Eidson said.
Intelligent River technology is a highly efficient and cost-effective real-time remote-data acquisition system that captures unprecedented amounts of data that are delivered via website to municipal and water resource managers. It also can be applied to manage farms and forests.
In Aiken’s Urban Ecology Center, the technology will be developed for the Intelligent City. This will enable entire cities to utilize sophisticated, computerized operational models and decision-making tools to manage urban infrastructure: roads, bridges, water systems, buildings, utilities, energy and green spaces.
“The center will foster technology spinoff companies that can lead to highly skilled and rewarding jobs for South Carolina,” Eidson said.