SBA Announces $50,000 Award to Maine Center for Entrepreneurs Through Growth Accelerator Fund Competition

September 26, 2019

Funds to be used in support of Startups and R&D focused Small Businesses

SBA -US Small Business Administration News Release

Release Date: September 26, 2019
Contact: [email protected]
Release Number: 19-51

SBA Announces $50,000 Award to Maine Center for Entrepreneurs Through Growth Accelerator Fund Competition

Funds to be used in support of Startups and R&D focused Small Businesses

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Small Business Administration today announced 60 winners of SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, which included the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs (MCE).  The recipients, representing accelerators and incubators across 39 states and territories focused on a broad set of industries and sectors, will receive a total of $3 million in awards to support startups and entrepreneurs researching and developing STEM-related innovations.

“I am proud to announce the winners of the 2019 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition.  Over the past five years, the competition has provided awards to innovative and promising accelerators and incubators.  This year’s recipients, who will each receive an award of $50,000 from the SBA, are no exception,” said  Acting SBA Administrator Chris Pilkerton.  “This includes entrepreneurs located in Opportunity Zones – where job creation and investments are moving forward to revitalize communities.”

“We congratulate the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs on being selected for this competitive award,” said Maine SBA District Director Amy Bassett.  “SBA in Maine is delighted to support local, innovative, growth focused organizations like MCE through the SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund. With this award MCE, under the leadership of Tom Rainey, will be able to assist more companies in exploring growth opportunities through the SBIR/STTR programs.”

The Growth Accelerator Fund Competition will infuse the accelerators and incubators with additional operating capital to provide focused assistance to entrepreneurs.  This assistance includes support for company formation as well as awareness and education on the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.  Notably, the prizes are not for direct investing in the entrepreneurs’ small businesses.

The Maine Center for Entrepreneurs will use this award to increase the awareness of the SBIR/STTR programs among Maine businesses. Currently, Maine is underrepresented in these programs, but with increased focus, MCE plans to enhance access to these funding streams. The goal is to accomplish this by using the existing network of MCE’s Top Gun graduates and partnerships with organizations like Maine Technology Institute.

“With this award, MCE will identify companies eligible for Federal R&D funding through the SBIR/STTR programs and coach them through preparing to submit an application” said Tom Rainey, Executive Director at MCE. This initiative will further establish MCE’s new Emerging Technology Group aimed at commercializing innovative technologies. Whether they began in an inventor’s garage or through work conducted at one of Maine’s research-performing institutions, we are here to help them,” Rainey added.

Applicants to the Competition submitted a brief presentation deck and an optional two-minute video outlining the organization’s overall approach, experience working with the targeted entrepreneur group, and key metrics that will be used to evaluate the success of the proposed plan.  Applications were judged by panels of experts with entrepreneurial, investment, startup, economic development, and academic backgrounds from both the public and private sector.

For more information about the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition and a full list of award winners past and present, visit: and

 About the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition

A total of $3,000,000 was appropriated to be awarded as prizes to accelerators, incubators, co-working startup communities, or other entrepreneurial ecosystem models.  Each prize of $50,000 provides operational funding to the awardee for their work in supporting startup businesses.  The Competition was conducted by SBA pursuant to the government wide prize competition authority known as the America COMPETES Act (15 U.S.C. 3719).  Additional information can be found at and


SBA coordinates the SBIR/STTR programs, also known as America’s Seed Fund, which each year provides more than $3.7 billion in early stage seed capital totaling over 5,000 awards to small businesses. Eleven participating federal government agencies announce funding opportunities as either grants or contracts to address their research and development needs. Companies supported by the SBIR/STTR programs often generate some of the most important breakthroughs each year in the U.S.  Additional information about the programs, as well as past and current topics can be found at

About Maine Center for Entrepreneurs

Founded in 1997, MCE is an independent nonprofit based in Portland that helps the most promising Maine companies launch and grow through mentoring, training and connections. Over 300 Maine companies have graduated from MCE’s Top Gun startup accelerator program, and countless others have benefitted from assistance through the Maine Mentor Network. About 20 food, beverage, and agriculture companies have scaled up their businesses with MCE’s help in the Cultivator and MarketShare Accel programs.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit