The Maine Technology Institute (MTI) awarded a total of $1,473,925 to 28 Maine companies engaged in the development of technology-based products and services in the industries of aquaculture, marine technology, biotechnology, environmental technology, forestry, agriculture, information technology and precision manufacturing. The MTI funding was matched by $2,548,214 raised by the recipients.
MTI awarded $56,851 in TechStart Grants, $170,227 in Seed Grants, $1,216,848 in Development Loans and $29,999 in Business Accelerator Grants. TechStart Grants up to $5,000 support entrepreneurs and companies developing new ideas and new products to bring to market. Seed Grants up to $25,000 supporting entrepreneurs pursuing early-stage research and development activities. Development Loans of up to $500,000 support research and development of new and/or enhanced products, processes or services leading to commercialization. Business Accelerator Grants are available to companies that have recently won federal Small Business Innovation Research Phase I and Phase II grants or are start-up or early-stage companies that have won am MTI Development Loans. All MTI funding require at least a 1:1 funding match.
MTI provided development loans to Fluid Imaging Technologies in Yarmouth ($498,600) for development of the High Sensitivity FlowCAM, an automated particle analysis instrument; Pika Energy in Gorham ($218,834) to accelerate commercialization of a best-in-class wind energy system for the residential market which offers lower upfront cost, faster payback time, and improved safety and operating features due to design innovations for low-cost manufacturing and a unique plug-and-play electronic platform; SeaChange Group in Cumberland ($249,923) to provide product testing of the company’s Eco-Hybrid™ fuels for the marine transportation industry; and, RAS in Brunswick ($249,491) for the sustainable production of black sea bass and yellow fin tuna in a recirculating aquaculture system.
List of Awards, by Type of Funding:
TechStart Grants were awarded to:
Eldertide LLC in Dresden for Branding and Marketing Strategies for Elderberries
Eldertide will use their grant to fund the writing of a Phase I SBIR Grant to the US Department of Agriculture’s Small and Mid-Size Farms SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) program that is looking to develop new strategies for marketing agricultural commodities produced by small farms for local, regional, national, and international markets.
Award: $5,000 Match: $5,240
Solution Mates Inc. in Scarborough for development of their business strategy and to expand existing operations.
Solution Mates Inc. (SMI) will use its TechStart Grant to complete a comprehensive business strategy to include expanding existing operations producing sustainable consumer innovations in Maine. The strategy will build on SMI’s unique high-performance, wood-fiber cloth, leveraging Maine’s most “sustainable” resource, trees, as well as the state’s technical heritage in advanced-textiles and will position SMI as a leader in sustainable mass-market solutions. It will also allow SMI to obtain bridge-funding necessary to grow national distribution by defining detail of its sustainability-based model.
Award: $5,000 Match: $5,500
Forestry and Agriculture
The Maine Flame in Bar Mills for Market Analysis
The Maine Flame is a product line of sustainable, efficient fire starters. The product currently retails in several markets and is looking towards increased growth. The Maine Flame will use their TechStart funding to collaborate with the Campus Ventures program at the University of Southern Maine to create a market analysis for new retail opportunities and to explore expansion into new regional markets.
Award: $1,500 Match: $1,500
George F. McBride in Machiasport for Instream HydroPower Generator
George F. McBride has a patent application pending for the “Instream HydroPower Generator,” a turbine design to harvest kinetic energy from a flowing stream. Further technical developments necessitate a review of the patent application and a determination to what extent new developments constitute “new matter” for the patent. The TechStart Grant will enable a “Continuation In Part” to be filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Award: $3,360 Match: $3,360
Residential Energy Dynamics, LLC in Bethel for their RED Plan
Residential Energy Dynamics, LLC (RED) looks to provide the best web-based software tools to enable residential energy efficiency analysts to maximize the effectiveness of their work. The function of the RED Plan is to refine and finalize the business plan. RED Plan will enable us to focus their development and serve as a sound foundation for planning and future funding.
Award: $5,000 Match: $5,000
B.J. Enterprises, LLC in Auburn for development of their Disrupt Conference product
MiFilter.com is a new web start-up from B.J. Enterprises, LLC. B. J. Enterprises, LLC has already started and successfully exited one Internet start-up and is now working on a product that filters and personalizes blog content across multiple platforms. Content personalization is a growing field, and by focusing exclusively on blog content, MiFilter will be able to reach a large but specific subset of Internet users that are currently being underserved. The TechStart Grant will be used to gather invaluable feedback on the initial product from experts in the fields of blogging, content aggregation, recommendation, and user interaction.
Amount: $1,995 Match: $3,804
Beach Glass Transitions, LLC in Portland for their TransitionKey
TransitionKey is a software product which aids families in the process of making senior care decisions through the use of interactive documents, storage capacity, explanatory videos, and locally relevant information and tips, covering a broad spectrum of topics all in one place.
Award: $4,500 Match: $5,015
Double Blue Sports Analytics LLC in Hermon for Double Blue Sports Analytics Goaltending App
Double Blue Sports Analytics will create software that simplifies the process of analyzing goaltending practice and game video through wireless mobile devices. Currently no position specific analytic application exists and the price point will finally provide a product thousands of athletes worldwide could financially afford. The industry first “Tender Test” feature will provide a benchmark for measuring precise goaltender analytics through an accelerometer speed cell. Athletes will be able to connect through social media in order to compare testing scores and rank themselves against current NHL goalies.
Award: $4,201 Match: $20,201
Scott Development Group, Inc. in Hartland for iConstructSafe
iConstructsafe is a free iPhone/iPad (prototype) app of short safety reminder videos for use by construction workers at the job site. Videos remind workers on how to use equipment safely right before they use a tool. This app transforms construction safety by delivering consistent, accurate information for maximum recall to reduce incidents and costs, engaging workers, and communicating company commitment to safety.
Award: $5,000 Match: $8,000
Full Circle America L3C in Damariscotta for Eldercare Technology Market Research
Full Circle America, (FCA) L3C, an elder care technology company located in Damariscotta will use their TechStart Grant to conduct market research on five specific market opportunities for its Video Monitoring and Coordinated Care Platform. The report will be used to set priorities and refine FCA’s business plan.
Award: $5,000 Match: $8,100
Creative Mobile, LLC in Scarborough for Mobile Bill & Appointment Presentment
Creative Mobile will use their TechStart Grant to conduct a pricing analysis of the value of offering Mobile Bill & Appointment Presentment among healthcare institutional clients and an independent market panel of healthcare institutions and patients. The pricing campaigns will seek to determine not only the general price sensitivity of healthcare institutions to mobile bill and appointment presentment, but will also help segment which target institutions should be the focus of product and marketing development (size of hospital, demographics of hospital, etc.).
Amount: $4,375 Match: $6,625
TrakLogik in Bangor for Super-Secure FPGA Ethernet Packet Manager: Patent
TrakLogik develops an FPGA-based Ethernet Packet-Manager device which provides custom-specified monitoring, re-routing and encryption of Ethernet/Internet traffic. This TechStart Grant will enable the filing of the utility patent as the basis for innovation, application patents, production of new products and sales.
Amount: $4,420 Match: $4,840
Peregrine Turbine Technologies, LLC in Wiscasset for Improved Efficiency Gas Turbine Powerplant
The Peregrine Turbine comprises a unique combination of turbomachinery elements and a novel cycle design implementation in order to achieve landmark fuel efficiencies and emissions. This unique turbine design boasts step-change improvements in both categories while facilitating lower acquisition, maintenance and life cycle costs. It can be operated on a variety of fuels including diesel fuel, natural gas, propane, syngas and others. The unique design will result in 30-60% improvement in fuel burn across a multitude of applications including power generation, Naval propulsion, aircraft engines, vehicle hybrid drives, super-truck power plants and more.
Award: $5,000 Match: $13,000
Alba-Technic, LLC in Winthrop for the Preparation of SMARTY Development Loan Application
The technology is a lightweight neuro-protective headwear named SMARTY® made of a composite material, which is soft, conformable, and breathable during normal use. Upon impact, the material changes to protect the wearer from head injury. This TechStart will enable a Development Loan application for automating the fabrication process, manufacturing design of the components, pilot plan design and commercialization support activities.
Award: $2,500 Match: $8,572
Seed Grants were awarded to:
Aquaculture and Marine
Cultivated Reef in Orono for LED Technology for Sustainable Coral Aquaculture
This project will compare the growth rates and survivability of aqua cultured corals propagated under emerging LED lighting technology or conventional fluorescent lighting. The experiments will be conducted in independent recirculating artificial seawater systems designed to replicate the ambient water conditions of the tropical Indo-Pacific. Cultivated Reef anticipates developing optimal lighting protocols to reduce the operational costs of intensive coral aquaculture and increase the productivity of highly collectable specimens for the marine aquarium trade. This will generate new industry related revenue for the state of Maine and help to reduce the environmental impact of unsustainable wild harvesting.
Award: $17,560 Match: $44,496
Friendship International in Camden for Intensive Sea Urchin Bulking
Friendship International is a Maine-based sea urchin trading company that has been in the industry since 1994 and was once the largest shipper of live sea urchins from Maine to Japan. Friendship International is proposing to transfer European aquaculture technology to Maine to demonstrate an intensive sea urchin culture system (the UrchinPlater™) designed to hold urchins at high density while feeding them seaweed (bulking). This enhances gonad yields and quality, and allows for on-demand sale of live animals during peak demand. Intensive urchin bulking is a value-added process that could change the way the fishery is conducted in Maine.
Award: $21,779 Match: $23,641
Sterling Rope Company, Inc. in Biddeford for Tensile Testing System for New Product Development
Sterling Rope will use their Seed Grant to purchase a custom designed tension testing machine with a 50,000lb capacity and a minimum stroke length of 80 inches. This machine will allow Sterling to test advanced synthetic fiber and larger diameter ropes for developing new rope products and hardware systems for marine, arborist and other industrial rigging applications which would be new markets for Sterling.
Award: $25,000 Match: $60,719
Novia Products, LLC in Portland for Prototype Development for Scent Dispersion
Scentovation has licensed a new class of patented polymer foams (“NP1”) that has properties making it ideal for containing and delivering essential oils, fragrances, and pheromones (“Scent”). The Company is in the business of manufacturing NP1 for sale to other companies as well as use in a variety of Company created delivery devices. The devices are in various states of maturity. The goal of this project is to develop a series of inventive prototypes that will be valuable to both consumer and commercial markets.
Award: $25,000 Match: $28,200
O’Brien Medical, LLC in Orono for NeuroCheck Beta Prototyping
NeuroCheck, a novel vibratory sensation assessment device for the diabetes market, has successfully undergone proof-of-concept prototyping, clinical testing and customer validation through independent market research. The next step in O’Brien Medical’s plan to commercialize this product is beta prototyping in preparation for production. The proposed project will be completed in two stages: printed circuit board layout and CPU programming followed by fabrication of ten beta prototypes. Completion of this project will clarify the manufacturing processes required for production and result in prototypes suitable for further customer development activities.
Award: $24,980 Match: $31,448
Bar Harbor Biotechnology, Inc. in Trenton for Developing qPCR for C. elegans and Zebrafish
While mice are among the most well-known model organisms used in biotechnology research, there are many other common models. Two of the more popular models are zebrafish (Danio rerio) and C. elegans (Caenorhabditis elegans). There appears to be no available stock qPCR arrays for either of these models. Bar Harbor Biotechnology (BHB) is proposing development of StellARrays™ for both C. elegans and zebrafish models. Working with Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, BHB will develop five stock arrays for each model. These arrays will be commercialized and marketed to laboratories around the world utilizing these common models in their research.
Award: $21,519 Match: $21,519
Hyperlite Mountain Gear, Inc. in Biddeford for Spectralite
HMG is creating a woven fabric combining a 50/50 blend polyester with Spectra fiber. There currently is no woven denier fabric product available with the ability to have other material adhere to it. Spectralite will be one of the world’s strongest lightweight manmade materials. HMG is working with three different companies to blend the materials. HMG manufactured products will be more durable, 100% waterproof and will be the only equipment to have this unique fabric.
Award: $14,150 Match: $14,150
Cambium Enterprises in Yarmouth for Blended-learning Mastery Based Upgrade
PossibilityU is a SaaS solution designed to address the growing guidance gap in the nation’s schools. Cambium’s blended learning curriculum is a force multiplier for under-resourced high school guidance offices. With this Seed Grant, Cambium looks to take the foundation of personalized technology to the next level by implementing a mastery-based upgrade to their blended learning program. This project will help Cambium further differentiate themselves in the market and help them accelerate a new partnership with Person’s K-12 Division. It will accelerate revenues, preserve three jobs, create 1+ jobs and improve value to the institutions currently served.
Award: $25,000 Match: $34,439
Howell LTD in Westbrook for MSI Technology Integration
Through the recent introduction and patenting of various technologies, Howell MSI has emerged as the clear leader in the field of Multispectral Imaging (MSI). Through the implementation of Howell’s scientifically quantifiable imaging device, institutions will be able to create a perfectly accurate digital copy of their most important two-dimensional ephemera. By preserving just one-tenth of all of the world’s artwork, the device will fundamentally change the way information is stored, preserved, and shared. As virtual archives of painting and photographs accumulate, researchers and the public will gain unprecedented access into the worlds of art and history.
Award: $25,000 Match: $33,440
Development Loans were awarded to:
Aquaculture and Marine
RAS in Brunswick for their Pilot Plant
RAS Corporation’s mission is to sustainably produce high quality seafood. The company intends to culture fish in a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) on a waterfront site in Maine with five possible sites under consideration. Prior to going full-scale, a proposed 12-month pilot plant will take advantage of the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture (CCAR) business incubation facilities in Franklin. The primary purpose of the pilot plant is to verify growth curves for the two species of choice. Maine does not have a commercial RAS seafood production business for marine or freshwater species, let alone for black sea bass and yellowtail. Once the first full scale plant is operational, the company will expand to other sites, eventually adding supporting activities such as hatcheries, feed making and processing.
A September 2011, MTI Seed Grant financed a 9-month investigation at CCAR into the biology of culturing black sea bass and sandworms in a zero-waste system. In June 2012, an MTI Seed Grant extended these trials for a second 9-month period. Presently, the top 20% of the fish weigh over 100 grams. There are 800+ fish contained in a single 9.0 m3 tank. In the proposed program, there will be 18 tanks of 12 m3 each or a total of 216 m3, a 24 fold increase in scale. The pilot plant will allow test marketing as well as staffing.
Award: $249,491 Match: $312,003
Fluid Imaging Technologies in Yarmouth for development of the High Sensitivity FlowCAM
Fluid Imaging Technologies (FIT) is developing the next generation FlowCAM®. FIT has developed a functional concept model of a High-Sensitivity FlowCAM (HSFC) whose preliminary results are the basis of a patent application filed in June, 2012 to further protect its work in this segment.
The FlowCAM was the first automated particle analysis instrument to combine digital imaging for measuring the size and shape of microscopic particles and flow cytometery methods for quantifying the fluorescent signals of particles in a fluid medium. FIT’s technology was originally oriented toward oceanographic research markets, but the Company has grown through other commercial applications – including biotechnology, chemicals, petroleum and food and beverages – by a rate of over 30% each of the past three years.
About half of FIT’s revenues are generate though international sales and most major pharmaceutical manufacturers in the world now own a FlowCAM. The HSFC is an advancement of FIT’s flagship product, which is now over twelve years old, and will allow the Company to further expand into the life sciences segment.
This Development Loan facilitates continued engineering and scientific discovery, refining the functional concept model including the creation of both alpha and beta test instruments, verification against design requirements and performance validation testing against competitive scientific instruments and obtaining necessary regulatory approvals.
FIT has grown from a start-up, spinoff of the non-profit Bigelow Laboratories for Ocean Sciences into a fast growing, profitable high-tech manufacturer currently employing a team of 24 staff in Maine. When the HSFC is completed, FIT estimates it will employ approximately 35 staff.
Award: $498,600 Match: $793,980
SeaChange Group, LLC in Cumberland for Product Validation Testing of Low Emission Fuels
SeaChange Group (SCG) LLC is a Maine based company founded in 2009 to develop and commercialize low-emission fuels for diesel engine markets. Their first family of fuel products called Eco-Hybrid™ Fuels (EHFs), promise to reduce engine emissions of sulfur oxides (Sox), oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulate matter (PM), enabling operators to meet stringent air emissions regulations. EHFs are “drop-in” fuels for large-bore medium-speed and high-speed diesel engines which are widely used within the stationary power, locomotive and marine transportation industries. SCG has completed EHF proof-of-concept with funding support from the Maine Technology Institute and the National Science Foundation. Current development efforts seek to optimize fuel formulations, scale-up processing capabilities and engage early market adopters.
This MTI Development Loan will prepare SCG’s fuel technology for commercialization through product validation testing at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI). SwRI is a world leader in the testing and validation of fuel and engine related technologies. Successful product validation will position SCG to conduct field-trials with our commercialization partners and Maine Maritime Academy.
SeaChange Group management believes that the market for Eco-Hybrid™ fuels is significant. The New England and mid-Atlantic distillate markets alone consume over $8 billion worth of fuel, all of which are regulated for air emissions. These fuels will be manufactured at SCG’s Bucksport facility and are expected to create eight full-time highly-skilled jobs over the next year. Maine has a long history with the ocean industries and EHFs will support a vibrant marine community.
Award: $249,923 Match: $404,088
Pika Energy in Gorham for Wind Turbine Manufacturing Tooling
Pika Energy has developed a best-in-class wind energy system for the residential market. Developed with support from MTI and the US Department of Energy, Pika’s wind turbine system offers lower upfront cost, faster payback time, and better safety and features than wind turbines available today, thanks to design innovations for low-cost manufacturing and a unique plug-and-play electronic platform. Pika has tested two generations of prototypes since 2010. Product development is nearly complete with alpha testing starting in summer 2012. Initial outreach to potential customers has elicited a strong positive response.
This Development Loan will accelerate commercialization by supporting the purchase of manufacturing tooling, enabling Pika to set up pilot production, initiate beta testing, and launch third-party independent certification. This project will help expand Maine’s leadership in the growing market for clean energy technology. Pika is headquartered in Gorham and plans to base operations in Maine, leading to significant new high-quality engineering and manufacturing jobs in the state. Pika will also source components locally to reduce shipping costs and environmental impact.
$150K of Pika’s Development Loan supports Maine’s participation in CleanTech Innovations New England. Cleantech Innovations New England is a region wide program led by the New England Clean Energy Foundation to accelerate the pace and scale of new clean energy ventures across all six New England states. Program partners include the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the Maine Technology Institute, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development, the Connecticut Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning and the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration.
Award: $218,834 Match: $347,561
Business Accelerator Grants were awarded to:
Cerahelix, Inc. in Orono for Business Development
This Business Accelerator Grant will support the commercial development of an innovative ceramic membrane, the helix Ti-NFM, which can be used to make filters which are ten times faster and use significantly less energy than competing technologies. The project scope is to identify the best potential markets for this product, develop early customer relationships, and protect the commercial advantage via filing of an additional patent. Project results will be used to apply for $1 million in federal research dollars, and the successful commercialization of the technology could produce up to 10 high tech engineering and manufacturing jobs.
Amount: $15,000 Match: $149,774
SeaChange Group LLC in Cumberland for commercialization related to STTR Award
This Business Accelerator Grant supports SeaChange Group LLC’s commercialization activities related to its US DOE STTR Award (Phase I). SeaChange Group, in collaboration with the University of Maine, is developing a novel process for the conversion of cellulosic materials into energy-dense biofuels and chemicals. The multiple patents pending conversion process is a technological leap and shows promise for high techno-economic returns. This award will provide SeaChange Group support to develop additional IP and required business infrastructure to carry out commercialization activities resulting in a competitive phase II proposal for the Department of Energy in April, 2013.
Amount: $14,999 Match: $149,999