In the spring of 2023, the Maine Legislature passed a Resolution (LD 1318) requesting MTI to examine the state’s seven targeted technology sectors to assess their continued relevancy. Since its creation in 1999, MTI’s mandate has been to support and stimulate innovative projects that are engaged in those seven sectors, which lead to meaningful economic impact in our state.
During the summer of 2023, MTI engaged with Camoin Associates, an economic development consulting firm, to assess the existing industry sectors by analyzing past, present, and projected trends. Camoin completed a report on the current sectors, found here, that we will use as a baseline assessment for the larger evaluation of the sectors. Public forums conducted by MTI and Camoin soliciting feedback from stakeholders, partners, entrepreneurs, and technologists were also part of the process.
Over the past decade, a nice body of literature has been assembled regarding the emerging industry clusters and sectors that highlight opportunities for Maine to grow and diversify its economy. For example, in 2014, MTI commissioned a comprehensive study by Battelle to assess the tech sectors and clusters in the state. That report highlighted eight high-performing tech clusters in Maine: biopharmaceuticals; finance and business support services; agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and food production; alternative energy and turbines; boatbuilding and related industries; engineering and scientific/technical services; environmental services; and forestry-related products.
In 2015, FocusMaine hired a global consulting company to conduct an in-depth analysis of global trends and market opportunities in Maine and determined agriculture, aquaculture, and biopharmaceuticals were our state’s globally competitive and high-growth areas of opportunity.
In 2019, the state released its 10-year economic development strategy and that report recommended that we capitalize on the growth of clean, renewable energy sources; sustainable aquaculture, fishing and farming to meet the growing demand for a traceable food supply; and continued growth of bio-based alternative products that emerge from the intersection of wood supply, bioplastic, and advanced building material technologies.
In 2020, the state also issued its four-year climate action plan, Maine Won’t Wait. That report discusses Maine’s natural resource-based economic advantages and notes that Maine ought to focus on R&D in climate-friendly bio-based wood-market innovation; and research around climate-friendly agricultural practices.
More recently, the Maine Innovation Economy Advisory Board presented its five-year Innovation Action Plan. That plan highlights the following high-growth target sectors as opportunities and strengths for Maine: aerospace; artificial intelligence; bio-based alternatives like advanced building products, algae and algal products, bio-manufacturing, biochemicals; human health including biomedical research and healthy aging; and renewable energy.
All those reports will be reviewed as part of the process, along with other relevant literature and data, to help us compile our findings and develop recommendations for any changes that ought to be considered to further highlight Maine’s advantages and emerging opportunities.