Cluster Initiative Program

Award: Up to $50,000 (Planning/Pilot/Feasibility) Up to $500,000 (Implementation)

Timing: Rolling application, accepted anytime

Intent: MTI's Cluster Initiative Program awards up to $50,000 for feasibility planning and pilot projects up to $500,000 for collaborative initiatives that boost the strength and scale of Maine's high-potential technology intensive clusters.

All applications accepted on a rolling basis with 60-90 day turn around.

Planning/Pilot/Feasibility: up to $50,000 for feasibility, planning and pilot activities that help you and your industry collaborators tackle challenges facing your industry.

Implementation Proposals:  Up to $500,000 to fund collaborative, industry-led activities that boost innovation and industry success.

Read the program overview here and the most recent Request for Proposals (RFP) here (PDF).

Clusters are an important driver of business growth and economic development. They are concentrations of companies that serve similar customers, draw on similar knowledge and workforce skills in the development of innovative products and services. They are actively supported by common organizations such as specialized suppliers, industry-knowledgeable universities, trade associations, legal and financial experts, funding sources and government agencies. Typically, a collective competitive advantage comes from the whole range of activities and sharing of knowledge within the cluster (e.g. supply-chain development, market intelligence, incubator services, attraction of capital, management training and education, joint R&D, technical standard setting) Common examples of technology clusters are California’s Silicon Valley for IT companies, and Maine’s marine trades cluster. Click here to see examples of recently funded projects.

MTI’s Cluster Initiative Program (CIP) aims to boost the strength and scale of Maine’s high-potential technology intensive clusters. It draws on MTI’s cluster enhancement award experience since 2000 and the report released in April 2008, Maine’s Technology Sectors and Clusters: Status and Strategy.

In 2013, MTI commissioned Battelle Technology Partnership Practice to conduct an updated analysis of Maine’s Technology Clusters in a report titled Re-Examining Maine’s Economic Position, Innovation Ecosystem and Prospects for Growth in Its Technology-Intensive Clusters.

The Full Report can be found here.

The Executive Summary can be found here.

A Briefing Paper on the report can be found here.

The report identified thirteen technology clusters in Maine at the time that the data was collected and analyzed. Applications targeted to strengthen  clusters that build on these foundations will receive priority by MTI. Applicants are encouraged to review this study and draw on its analysis in an application where applicable.

Click here for Cluster Support Resources.

There are two levels of awards for cluster initiatives that involve industry leadership or active engagement.

Awards of up to $50,000 are offered on a rolling basis for cluster initiative planning or feasibility studies.

Awards of up to $500,000 are available to cluster initiatives to support Maine’s technology sectors and businesses by improving the effectiveness of their infrastructure, as well as resources and connections among firms, service providers, research laboratories and educational institutions. These awards support on collaborative efforts that help spread knowledge and skills, build connections among businesses, connect businesses to research and service partners, and address common opportunities and challenges, leading to more vibrant economic growth and innovation in Maine’s high-potential technology clusters. Applications are requested through an RFP.

Workshops and Webinars:

There are no workshops or webinars scheduled at this time.

To review information shared in the most recent webinar, click here.

Application Process

There are two levels of awards and application time lines and requirements. Participation in a workshop or a personal interview is required for submission of an application for both award levels.

Please see the Request for Proposals (RFP) here

Application Forms:

Application Checklist Word
Cover Page (Form A) Word
Milestone Summary (Form B) Word
Budget Form (Form C) Word or Excel
Sample Commitment Letter (Form D) Word
Economic Impact Summary (Form E) Word

Review and Selection Process

All completed applications will be reviewed by a committee consisting of MTI, the MTI Board of Directors and outside experts, as invited by MTI. The committee will make a recommendation for each application considering, but not limited to, the following: the collaborating organizations and individuals, the importance of the cluster to Maine, the amount and quality of matching funds, the quality and clarity of the application and the prospects for measurable impact. The result will be a designation of “Recommended for Interview” or Not Recommended for Interview.”

Those applicants recommended for an interview will be invited to present their project, in person, to the committee or MTI Board. Upon review of all recommended applications, the MTI Board of Directors will make final award decisions.

Click here for the application evaluation form.