Like Maple Trees in Fall, Maine’s Innovation Economy Displaying Its Bright Colors

Happy Autumn,

I hope you have been enjoying the magnificent fall foliage, mouthwatering apples and brisk temperatures. I truly love this season and it’s another reminder of just how fortunate we are to call this place home.

In addition to our state’s abundant natural splendor, Maine’s economy – – and, in particular, our innovation economy – – is also displaying its cheerful colors this fall. Steve Case, co-founder of AOL, brought his Rise of the Rest bus tour to Portland on October 2nd. After spending the day visiting Maine businesses, entrepreneurs and ecosystem leaders, he hosted a pitch competition featuring 8 Maine start-ups vying for $100,000 from his investment company, Revolution. Of the 8 companies in the competition, 5 of them were MTI portfolio companies, including Dream Local Digital, Rapport, CourseStorm, Introspective Systems, and Lobster Unlimited. Rapport was ultimately chosen by Case as the winner of the $100,000 prize and is well-positioned for future growth and success.

Greenlight Maine, our state’s friendly pitch competition, is airing weekly episodes on Saturday evenings at 7:30 PM on WCSH6 and WLBZ2. The show “highlights the unique, creative, and inspirational activity that is being generated by small businesses” and features 26 Maine companies vying for a $100,000 prize. It is a terrific showcase of impressive Maine entrepreneurs who are taking risks to try to “convert their innovative ideas into invoices.”

Finally, Maine has a new seed accelerator in Bangor that is designed to help 4 Maine “startups test, improve, and figure out how to commercialize their ideas fast.” The Scratchpad accelerator is a pilot project of the University of Maine and MTI and is nearing completion of its first month. I attended last evening’s Pivot Day where the 4 companies – – Coursestorm, Double Blue Sports Analytics, Tip Whip and L&K Manufacturing – – provided presentations on their progress. All the companies raved about their experiences and look forward to completing the final two months of the intensive full-time program.

These examples highlight some of the extraordinary things occurring in Maine’s innovation economy. Maine’s next economy is showing its bright colors and its entrepreneurs are eagerly working to identify the next disruptive innovations and companies to ensure that we can all continue to live, and earn a living, here.