Earlier this month, MTI held its 20th anniversary celebration. It was a wonderfully positive and uplifting evening of innovation appreciation. The room was filled with dignitaries, entrepreneurs and people who have contributed meaningfully to MTI’s success over the past 20 years. We were honored to be able to recognize all those contributors over the course of the evening.
During my remarks, I noted that MTI’s governing statute was/is really an inspired piece of legislation on several different levels. I noted that it specifies that we invest our funds across Maine’s seven targeted technology sectors (biotechnology, composites and advanced materials, environmental technology, forestry and agriculture, information technology, marine and aquaculture, and precision manufacturing). Each of those sectors is assigned a volunteer board of subject matter experts within the sector who review and evaluate MTI funding proposals. In addition to our overarching Board of Directors, these Technology Board members are the key ingredient in our public-private partnership. I am continuously impressed by the high 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. I truly view them as our organization’s secret sauce.
As you know, last year, MTI modified its funding approach and moved to a rolling application process. This meant we needed to lean more heavily on our Tech Board members by pulling them together on an ad hoc basis to review applications as they rolled in the door. One of the drawbacks of the ad hoc review approach is that we rarely convene the entire Tech Board together. In an effort to make certain MTI is leveraging the talent on our Tech Boards for more than just their judicious reviews of the various funding proposals we receive, I am committed to bringing them together three times a year to stimulate discussions about potential challenges and opportunities within the sectors, to examine past MTI investments in the sectors, to do some additional training on our new review process, and to recruit additional Tech Board talent, among other things. We are pleased to convene the seven Targeted Technology Boards over the next two weeks and look forward to a wonderful dialogue and the conveyance of my appreciation for the many hours they volunteer to MTI over the course of the year. And, given that they are considered the secret sauce in MTI’s metaphorical sandwich, we’ll also share a nice lunch together during the meetings. I look forward to seeing them all.