It’s been an incredible year at the Maine Technology Institute (MTI).  As you know, MTI’s core mission is to diversify and grow Maine’s economy by encouraging, promoting, stimulating and supporting innovation and its transformation into new products, processes and companies, leading to the creation of quality jobs for Maine people.

Over the past year, MTI has been privileged to review some ambitious and impressive proposals aimed at helping us achieve our mission.  In a typical year, MTI will deploy anywhere from $6-10 million across the State of Maine.  In fiscal year 2018, ending on June 30, MTI put a historic level of funding – – over $57 million – – to work in the state of Maine, due in large part to a $45 million bond issue that we were entrusted to administer.  This bond funding, designed to catalyze private sector innovation, helped generate $240 million in private sector matching funds and, according to an independent analysis, will generate 5,350 jobs and $1.4 billion in economic impact over the next 3 years.

Additionally, while deploying this extraordinary level of funding, MTI’s Board and staff also worked in earnest to operationalize its recently adopted (June 2017) strategic plan. The strategic planning implementation process was thorough and inclusive and ultimately led to the launch of a completely new approach to funding innovation in Maine.  Our new funding approach, launched in August and resulting from a concerted effort to listen intently to our customers, partners and stakeholders, is less bureaucratic, more nimble and completely tailored to the individual needs of our customers.

Putting nearly 6 times more money to work than MTI would in any typical year, obviously caused a strain on MTI’s staff, board, and volunteer subject matter experts.  So, that’s why I want to use this month’s blog to personally thank them for their tremendous efforts.

First, MTI has a small, dedicated and exceptional staff that is passionate about helping to propel Maine’s innovation economy forward. You can view all their biographies here.  I marvel daily at the level of knowledge, commitment and dedication that each brings to the MTI team and I want to commend them all for their efforts.  Thank you, Martha Bentley, Joe Migliaccio, Greg Lee, Scott Bursey, Shane Beckim, Lou Simms, Brian Jones, April Finkenhoefer, Kim Doughty, Patti Sutter and Becky Quirk.

The staff and organization are guided by an impressive 15-person Board of Directors, made up of private and public-sector representatives, who freely give of their time, talents and expertise to make funding decisions, guide the strategic direction of MTI, and shape the delivery of the organization’s programs. Capably led by our Chairwoman Donna Cassese, the biographies of each of the Directors can be found here. My profound appreciation goes out to each of them: Sandy Spaulding, Chip Kelley, Jake Ward, Denise Garland, Paul Edmonds, Paul Leparulo, Sebastian Belle, Nina Fisher, Rick Ganong, Meredith Mendelson, Alec Porteous, Rosaire Pelletier, and Stacey Huth.

I also want to convey a special thank you to Sandy Spaulding, who served until recently as Chairman of the MTI Board of Directors, for all his dedicated efforts leading the organization from late 2014 through September of this year.  He inherited an organization in some transition and helped oversee the solicitation, evaluation and award of 595 projects and nearly $33 million, a comprehensive strategic planning process, the administration of more than $67 million in bond funds, and the development of a completely new approach to funding innovation in Maine.  I deeply appreciate all of Sandy’s guidance and mentoring over the years and I am pleased that he will continue to serve on the Board representing the Composites and Advanced Materials Sector.

The Maine Technology Institute invests its funds in Maine’s seven targeted technology sectors. Each of those sectors is assigned a board of subject matter experts within the sector who meet at least three times a year to review and evaluate funding proposals. I am continuously impressed by the caliber of the individuals serving on these boards and the depth and breadth of the sector-related knowledge they possess.  There are over 100 Tech Board members advising MTI at this time and the organization is indebted to each of them for sharing their expertise and advice with us.  Find a list of our Tech Board members here.

I would be remiss if I did not also mention MTI’s amazing E-Residents and Technical Assistance Program (TAP) experts.

Our E-Residents are experienced entrepreneurs and executives who have invested and advised start-ups and later stage businesses, experienced the challenges, frustration and joys of building and growing a company and bringing a product to market, and have made meaningful contributions to our economy.  MTI deploys the EIRs to companies within the MTI portfolio to provide peer guidance to entrepreneurs. Their assistance is invaluable and helps MTI immeasurably. The biographies of the EIRs can be found here but I want to specifically commend each of them – – Matt Hoffner, John Karp, John Pavan and John Eldredge – – for their service to MTI.

Our TAP team experts work with Maine entrepreneurs and companies interested in seeking federal research and development funding opportunities.  Each year the federal government allocates approximately $2.5 billion in funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.  Given the challenging nature of completing and submitting competitive federal funding applications, MTI makes its TAP team resource available to help increase the chances that Maine entrepreneurs and companies are successful in this effort.  I want to thank Karen West, Suzanne Hamlin, Stan Gavitt, and Jo Anne Goodnight for sharing their expertise and insights to help Maine secure a share of federal R&D funds.

Again, this past year has been an amazing one at MTI and I am deeply thankful for the contributions of MTI’s entire team.  I look forward to another great year ahead helping to catalyze innovation and job creation in the State of Maine.