Maine Technology Institute awards over $750,000 in seed grants to innovative projects

Photo: GO Logic is an architecture and construction firm based in Belfast, Maine, that creates sustainable, well-designed buildings and master plans, including private residences, institutions, and housing developments. GO Logic recieved a MTI Seed Grant in this recent round. Photo by Ramona du Houx

By Ramona du Houx

The Maine Technology Institute (MTI) approved 32 Seed Grant applications in June 2016, totaling $752,599 in awards to entrepreneurs from across Maine to advance new product and process development in biotechnology, composite materials, environmental technology, forestry & agriculture, information technology, aquaculture & marine technologies, and precision manufacturing technology.  This round of MTI awards leveraged $1,759,024 of matching contributions from the award recipients.

But the amounts pale in comparison to the grant allocations during the Baldacci Administration. Goveronr John Baldacci started the Maine Technology Asset Fund (MTAF) awards, which targeted growing sectors of innovation in Maine and grew the economy under his leadership. These awards come from voter approved bonds.

Ever since Gov. LePage has been in office only two research and develpment bonds have passed the legislature. Two. And LePage hasn't released all the funds yet.

Photo: The Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory  was awarded $24,970 from voter approved bonds.

The Maine Technology Asset Fund (MTAF) was developed under the Baldacci administration for targeted investments in cluster growth areas of Maine. The award recipients represented private sector companies, non-profit research institutions, and the state's research universities. Funded projects helped fuel economic development by expanding research and commercialization activities, and attracting additional federal funding. Spin-off companies created from these successful R&D investments also helped develop Maine’s skilled workforce, and created technology jobs.

Governor John Baldacci and lawmakers took a Brookings Report on where to invest in Maine for growth to heart in 2008 and approved the new MTAF program. Voters then overwhelmingly said yes at the polls to successive bond funding rounds in 2008, 2009 and 2010 for MTI and the MTAF program. These awards created jobs and helped the state weather the Great Recession. It's clear the state needs more bonds to spur economic growth. 

 Seed Grants are awarded to all seven of our state’s targeted technology sectors from start ups to established publicly traded companies.  

 Seed Grant Awards – Thirty-two companies received MTI Funding totaling $752,599 

  • Accelamed   Award Amount $25,000, Biddeford/Match Amount $34,929
  • Advanced Concepts & Engineering   Award Amount $25,000, Dexter/Match Amount $41,800
  •  Anchorpak  Award Amount $7,320, Portland/Match Amount $7,320
  • Aquilon Consulting  Award Amount $25,000, Portland/Match Amount $25,000
  •  Bixby & Co. Award Amount $25,000, Rockland/Match Amount $75,500
  •  Chemonex  Award Amount $24,950, Scarborough/Match Amount $29,650
  •  Coastal Chitin  Award Amount $25,000, Saco/Match Amount $96,575
  •  Cobbler Technologies  Award Amount $25,000, Bangor/Match Amount $25,000
  •  Corning Life Sciences – Proposal I  Award Amount $25,000, Kennebunk/Match Amount $63,596
  •  Corning Life Sciences – Proposal II  Award Amount $25,000, Kennebunk/Match Amount $559,440
  •  Delta Dewatering Award Amount $25,000, South Portland/Match Amount $25.100
  •  Downeast Institute Award Amount $25,000, Beals/Match Amount $25,000
  •  Eldertide  Award Amount $25,000, Dresden/Match Amount $25,160
  •  Foothill Fuels Award Amount $23,969, Portland/Match Amount $25,348
  •  GO Logic  Award Amount $24,840, Belfast, Match Amount $26,450
  •  Grojo Award Amount $25,000, Turner/Match Amount $27,920
  •  Highland Blueberry Farm  Award Amount $24,854, Stockton Springs/Match Amount $44,253
  •  InSphero Award Amount $25,000, Brunswick/Match Amount $104,120
  •  InterSpec Award Amount $23,000, South Portland/Match Amount $23,000
  •  Kenway Corporation  Award Amount $25,000, Augusta/Match Amount $32,920
  •  Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory  Award Amount $24,970, Bar Harbor/ Match Amount $31,034
  •  MedRhythms Award Amount $18,600, Cape Elizabeth/Match Amount $18,900
  •  Mook Sea Farm  Award Amount $25,000, Walpole/Match Amount $25,426
  •  MyHealthMath – Proposal I  Award Amount $25,000, Portland/Match Amount $30,800
  •  MyHealthMath – Proposal II  Award Amount $25,000, Portland/Match Amount $33,540
  •  Optimum Imaging Diagnostics  Award Amount $25,000, Scarborough/Match Amount $25,408
  •  RainWise  Award Amount $25,000, Trenton/Match Amount $35,010
  •  REV LLC  Award Amount $15,000, Portland/Match Amount $26,000
  •  Revolution Research  Award Amount $25,000, Orono /Match Amount $25,000
  •  Spring Point Solutions  Award Amount $24,996, Portland/Match Amount $117,285
  •  Starlit Software, Award Amount $25,000. Raymond/Match Amount $45,000
  •  Tip Whip, Award Amount $15,100, Orono/Match Amount $27,840

 

Seed Grants are offered three times a year to support the conversion of innovative research into new products, processes, and companies.  Funded activities may include proof of concept work, prototype development, field trials, prototype testing, pilot studies, or technology transfer activities.  MTI offers Seed Grants as direct investments in companies that are pioneering Maine’s future through their technology innovations. 

Grants often lead to other awards-

The state's cluster growth program for Maine Built Boats, developed by the Baldacci administration, was so successful the federal government awarded Maine a $10 million grant for the effort. This Maine Built Boat cluster program added jobs and training for the industry and brought boat builders to work together instead of competing against each other. Working together to promote all Maine Built Boats has increased sales and the state’s reputation as a place for quality boat manufacturing. The program became the template for economic growth.

Lawmakers have tried to put forth bonds for the voters to approve but LePage refuses to look at the importance research and development bonds have for the growth of Maine’s economy. Successive legislatures have proposed MTAF R&D bond programs only to see their legislation killed by the LePage administration, with the exception of two small bonds.