Maine MTI grant to help manufacturing in R & D

By Ramona du Houx - March 19th, 2011 

The Maine Technology Institute (MTI) has given the University of Southern Maine and University of Maine a $493,577 grant to boost their partnerships with private-sector manufacturers.

John Belding, director of UMaine’s center said that both universities are seeing a greater demand for research and development and commercialization services from Maine’s precision manufacturing companies, more than what the academic facilities currently can handle. Just in the past year, the facilities worked with more than 50 companies in Maine.

The three-year grant was issued to help manufacturing companies develop new products and to create more science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs in Maine. The money comes from the MTI’s cluster initiative program, started during the Baldacci administration, to support Maine’s technology sector.

University of Maine’s Advanced Manufacturing Center and University of Southern Maine’s Manufacturing Applications Center matched the grant with $567,000.

In a press release the educational institutions said the grant is designed, “to help businesses overcome the technological barriers preventing them from bringing to market hundreds of new products and manufacturing processes.”

The centers received contributions from business partners, including Hydro International in Portland, Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers in Freeport, and Sappi Paper in Westbrook.

The funds will be used by USM and UMaine to hire three full-time employees, including two project managers, and to buy equipment at the Orono and Gorham campuses. Students will also be involved in the work, helping prepare them for technological and industrial jobs.