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7/19/12 - Maine Technology Institute Awards $339,785 in New TechStart and Seed Grants to 17 Maine Companies to bring their Products and Services to Market

Maine Technology Institute (MTI) Board of Directors and Tech Board members have recently awarded $11,565 in three new TechStart Grants and $309,565 in 14 new Seed Grants to entrepreneurs from Bridgton and Biddeford to Portland to Auburn to Orono. The grants were matched by $509,973 by the award recipients. MTI TechStart Grants support entrepreneurs and companies across Maine which are developing new ideas and new products heading to commercialization. Seed Grants support entrepreneurs to pursue early-stage research and development activities to bring new products to market. TechStart and Seed Grants require at least a 1:1 funding or contribution to the project.

“We congratulate these entrepreneurs on successfully competing for these grants and for matching the MTI funding,” said Joe Migliaccio, Manager of the Business Innovation Program and Interim President, on the announcement. “These are some of the first steps toward generating new revenues, growing employment opportunities and entering some competitive business markets. As they advance their technologies, we look forward to continuing to work with them to help them achieve sales and grow good jobs for Maine people.”

TechStart Grants were awarded in the Biotechnology and Precision Manufacturing Sectors to:

Bar Harbor Biotechnology in Bar Harbor to develop their Colon Cancer Risk Assessment

Bar Harbor Biotechnology (BRB) has developed a new approach to early detection of colorectal cancer (CRC). CRC is the third most common cancer worldwide and affects over one million people in North America alone. Five year survival rates are 90% with an early diagnosis but plummet to 6% for Stage IV patients. Unfortunately, only 39% of cases are found at the early stage. The BRB test increases the chances of early detection thereby raising the patient’s chance of survival. MTI TechStart funding will allow BHB to pursue federal funding to bring this exciting new risk assessment tool to market.

Award: $5,000 Match: $5,000

D2 Systems in Windham for their Patent Filing for Photovoltaic Textile Design

Solar Power is being applied in many new and innovative ways. Photovoltaic textiles convert sunlight to electrical power while maintaining the useful mechanical properties of a fabric. In the current state of the art, electrical performance of such fabrics is constrained by inadequate material properties. New Concepts Engineering and the University of Southern Maine have developed innovative technologies that resolve these difficulties, enabling improved electrical performance. A provisional patent application has already been filed with the US Patent Office. This funding will enable D2 Systems complete and file a full US patent application.

Award: $4,900 Match: $4,900

Ruffin LLC on Islesboro for their Ruffin Business Development

Ruffin LLC is a small Maine based company that designs plumbing fittings adaptable to various plumbing situations and applications. They have created a device called Ruffin Fitting that can be used to connect solid piping and PEX piping, a flexible piping commonly used in plumbing and renovation. The company currently holds three design patents and will use their TechStart Grant in business plan marketing and market analysis to bring the product to market.

Award: $1,665 Match: $1,700

Seed Grants were awarded in six of the state’s seven technology sectors; advanced technologies for forestry and agriculture, aquaculture and marine technology, biotechnology, composite technology, environmental technologies, information technology and precision manufacturing to:

Advanced Technologies for Forestry and Agriculture

Farming Fungi LLC in Sanford for Mushroom Growing Technology

Farming Fungi will farm a variety of certified organic culinary mushrooms for restaurants and the consumer market using proprietary fully automated growing “fruiting” technology and proprietary growth “recipes” to produce consistently superior native Maine mushroom varieties. Farming Fungi will use the MTI Seed Grant to develop software and related control systems to employ the knowledge “recipes” it has developed in its earlier research phase to automatically control and optimize the mushroom fruiting process.

Award - $24,990 Match - $61,087

MaineAsia LLC in Portland for Composite Arch Photovoltaic Greenhouse Testing

MaineAsia LLC has partnered with PHIG Solar to commercialize its Photovoltaic Greenhouse (PVG) internationally. This novel greenhouse solution integrates a proprietary thin-film PV solar technology into an integrated greenhouse design, allowing farmers to grow crops while generating electricity. This MTI Seed Grant will support the design and testing of the next generation PVG utilizing UMO’s Bridge in a Backpack (BIB) technology to develop a more cost effective arch based composite PVG. With MTI’s support MaineAsia will work with UMO and AIT to design an optimal BIB PVG structure that meets New England building codes while reducing costs.

Award - $25,000 Match - $62,000

Aquaculture and Marine Technology

University of Maine in Orono for Novel Vaccines for Aquaculture

Vaccines are a key method of controlling disease in finfish aquaculture. However, most fish vaccines consist of crude bacterial suspensions where the mechanisms of protection are not well understood. Recent research by the applicants has identified a novel group of proteins that are expressed by bacteria during the end stages of an infection. Vaccines that include these proteins were very protective against the fish pathogen Aeromonas salmonicida in small-scale laboratory trials.

Award - $20,100 Match - $27,860

RAS Corporation in Brunswick for Enhanced-RAS Prototype Phase II

RAS Corporation and the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research have conducted MTI-funded trials since October 2011 whereby particulate waste from a tank of black sea bass is flowed to separate raceways containing deposit-feeding sandworms thereby eliminating mechanical filtration and waste disposal costs while culturing a high value by-product. This Seed Grant will continue the research to investigate and demonstate further the dynamics of fish/worm biomass interaction as the trial fish grow from 50 grams to market size with the sandworm numbers held constant. This technology could lead to 100% recirculation and substantially reduce capital costs and operating expenses with industry-wide potential.

Award - $23,872 Match - $24,442

Composite Materials Technology

Falcon Performance Footwear in Auburn for Puncture Resistant Bi-Fit Development Project

Falcon Performance Footwear will use this Seed Grant to work with the University of Maine’s Advanced Manufacturing Center (AMC) and TexTech of North Monmouth, Me to develop a footwear component called the “puncture resistant bi-fit” and the production system for that component, which will replace two components that Falcon currently purchases from outside the US: the bi-fit and the puncture resistant Lenzi board. This project will enable Falcon to procure production equipment and train operators, with the goal of starting production in Q4 of 2012. The project will also enable TexTech to develop a new product for the safety footwear industry.

Award - $18,705 Match - $18,800

Environmental Technology

Count and Crush LLC in South Portland for CLYNK 2.0

This Seed Grant will leverage CLYNK’s early success and develop the next generation of tools to allow CLYNK to become a national provider of recycling services. The CLYNK model has proven that, if recycling is made easy enough, more consumers will participate. CLYNK intends to build on its experience in Maine to develop new customer interface systems that increase customer usage and position CLYNK to provide its unique service in both deposit and non-bottle deposit state, just as CLYNK developed a patented bottle processing system that allowed it to lower the cost of bottle handling. CLYNK’s objective is to lower the barriers to consumer usage as well as the cost of retail execution to begin a national launch of the CLYNK model.

Award - $25,000 Match - $39,000

SeaChange Group LLC in Cape Elizabeth for High-Speed Diesel Engine Testing Platform

This MTI Seed Grant will fund the installation of a large-bore diesel engine test platform. SeaChange Group has developed Eco-Hybrid™ fuel technology with demonstrated reductions in SOx, NOx and particulate matter from diesel engines. Refinement of the fuel formulation is required to maximize engine durability and fuel performance characteristics. SeaChange Group is partnering with Maine Maritime Academy to instrument a 300 HP marine diesel engine in its Bucksport, ME facility. Installation of the static testing platform will allow SeaChange Group to complete the fuel optimization effort and provide necessary product proving steps to enter into field trials with early adopters.

Award - $17,465 Match - $34,590

SeaChange Group LLC in Cape Elizabeth for Prototype Eco-Hybrid Fuel Processor

This MTI Seed Grant award will develop a prototype batch processor for an Eco-Hybrid™ fuel technology. Eco-Hybrid™ fuels have demonstrated reductions in unwanted emissions in diesel engines tests and are projected to allow equipment operators to comply with up-coming emissions requirements while reducing fueling costs. In the next step of development, SeaChange Group must demonstrate scale-up production of Eco-Hybrid™ fuel to service larger engine platforms and to accelerate the design of commercial-scale production facilities based on the technology. SeaChange Group will fabricate a prototype Eco-Hybrid™ fuel processor capable of producing 480 gallons/day in batch operation.

Award - $24,654 Match - $28,250

University of Maine in Orono for Chemiluminescence Detection of Nitrates and THMs

The ability to detect nitrates and disinfectant byproducts in place and in real-time greatly improves process controls and pollution monitoring for aquaculture and drinking water treatment. The University of Maine is developing a sensor that takes advantage of a novel spectrometer design that measures the chemiluminescence of these compounds. The scope of this project is to obtain the technical and customer requirements of a chemiluminescence based sensor which will allow us to design our beta prototype device. The lightweight, durable monitoring device will be deployable and provide pollutant concentration data in real-time to end users.

Award - $13,085 Match - $16,360

Information Technology

VetEnvoy, Inc. in Portland for VetEnvoy Telemedicine Transfer Protocol Phase II

VetEnvoy, Inc. has developed a software hub for connecting veterinary clinics electronically with veterinary suppliers and businesses. VetEnvoy has developed and commercialized a number of different protocols for transferring medical records and information through their web-based platform. The company is in the second phase of developing a telemedicine transfer protocol, enabling the send and retrieve of veterinary diagnostic image report documents between practice management systems and diagnostic image specialist laboratories. When completed, this technology will allow VetEnvoy penetration into the largest growing sector of the veterinary field. This Seed Grant will focus on partner integrations, beta-testing and quality assurance through commercialization.

Award - $16,700 Match - $49,500

Zylo Media LLC in Portland for BoodleUP Mobile Application Development

This Seed Grant is funding the development of Android and iOS mobile device applications of Zylo Media’s patent-pending BoodleUP™ digital marketing platform. BoodleUP is a gamified service for consumer-goods marketing and customer retention. Zylo Media tested a web-only version of BoodleUP in the Portland market with excellent results and is now preparing to launch BoodleUP on a commercial basis in Boston. We anticipate that mobile device versions of BoodleUP will increase consumer engagement and support continued growth of our Portland-based company.

Award - $25,000 Match - $44,200

MTK Technology Group LLC in Gorham for Mobile Lockout/Tagout Demonstration Prototype

The control of hazardous electrical energy (called Lockout-Tagout) affects 3 million American workers and the failure to follow Lockout-Tagout procedures results in 7% of all workplace fatalities. MTK Technology Group and Maine Maritime Academy have established a research partnership to adapt MTK’s patent pending adaptive procedures technology to create a prototype device to address this problem. With MTK, the individual tasks, location, compliance and reporting needs are guided and tracked to reduce error, improve standardization and streamline costly compliance requirements. MTK’s technology provided the same process ensures positive outcomes in commercial aviation to other high-risk, dynamic industries.

Award - $25,000 Match - $37,453

Precision Manufacturing Technology

Bellwether Design Technologies LLC in Biddeford for Structural Glass Skylight Development

Bellwether Design Technologies is developing a structural glass skylight system called Insight to deliver significant cost savings and superior performance benefits to commercial building owners. In keeping with current trends and requirements for high energy efficiency and environmental building practices, Insight skylights will deliver improved thermal performance, acoustical attenuation properties, and dramatically superior aesthetics, all at lower costs for purchase, installation and maintenance. The Insight system is designed with Bellwether’s unique combination of 20 years’ experience in the development of skylight systems, as well as proven expertise in successful business development and new product rollouts.

Award - $24,994 Match - $25,581

Howell Laboratories Inc. in Bridgton for Broadband Low-Power FM Broadcast Antenna Research

The development of a compact, fully broadbanded, “Plug and Play” style FM broadcasting antenna for low-power broadcasters, rapidly deployable in environments lacking skilled installation labor and test capabilities. The demand for this style of antenna from FM broadcasters is growing quickly and includes low-power translator licensees, emergency standby facilties, disaster recovery as well as forming a fully-integrated transmitter and antenna package which can be deployed quickly anywhere in the world with a minimum of effort and technical skill. There is firm interest from a transmitter manufacturer and a national broadcaster.

Award - $25,000 Match - $27,250

Maine Technology Institute (MTI) is a publicly-funded, industry-led, non-profit corporation that offers funding in the form of competitive grants, loans and equity investment to help grow technology-intensive companies and generate high-quality jobs across Maine. More about MTI at: www.mainetechnology.org.

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