PRIME Ecosystem Fund FAQs

What are the eligibility requirements in order to receive funding?

  • Your application must propose a project/program which supports startup businesses in Maine by directly addressing negative economic impacts of the pandemic and supporting innovation in Maine’s technology sectors.
  • Your organization must be registered with the Maine Secretary of State’s corporate registry.
  • Your organization must have a federal Unique Entity ID (UEID) number registered via SAM.gov.
  • You are able and willing to comply with simple bi-annual reporting updates required by MTI and State and Federal law.

How much funding is available and when can awardees expect funding?

  • MTI expects approximately $5M will be available for this round of funding. MTI reserves the right to change this amount based on the number and the quality of the applications received.
  • We expect to make award announcements by the end of December and begin funding projects as soon as awardee contracts are executed. MTI reserves the right to develop a funding distribution schedule based on mutually agreeable milestones for each awarded project.

How much funding can an organization request?

We expect the maximum award (including multi-year awards) will not exceed $750K per project/program. MTI reserves the right to change that amount based on the number and the quality of the applications received.

While we encourage collaboration among organizations on proposed programs, each organization can serve as the primary applicant on only one application.

How will the applications be evaluated and scored?

Each application will be evaluated and scored by a panel of experts from within the state with experience in grant funding and startup operations. All reviewers will sign confidentiality agreements and non-disclosure agreements and will be non-conflicted on any application that they review and score. MTI will manage the process, host the application and review process. All correspondence and updates will come directly from the MTI Team.

Scoring will be based on the following four categories of assessment:

  1. Economic impact for Maine
  2. Team
  3. Value proposition and market need
  4. Implementation plan

What qualifies as “negative economic impact of the pandemic” for Maine startup companies?

“Negative economic impact” can be defined in multiple ways, such as, but not limited to:

  • Access to capital
  • Lack of direct technical assistance
  • Supply chain disruptions
  • Worker unavailability
  • Other resource limitations
  • Pandemic-caused changes in demand for certain products or services

Organizations should think broadly about the harm the pandemic caused the startup community in Maine and ensure that their proposed project/program directly addresses those challenges.

How long must an organization have been in existence in order to be eligible?

An eligible organization must be able to meet the other eligibility criteria and be operational as of October 1, 2022.

Will prior MTI awards impact eligibility?

No. The PRIME Ecosystem Fund is federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Prior MTI award(s), or declinations will not impact eligibility for a PRIME Ecosystem Fund award.

How much detail should be included in the application for the use of PRIME Ecosystem Funding?

  • The purpose of this funding is to addresss negative economic impact of the pandemic by supporting innovation in Maine’s technology sectors. The plan you submit with your application should provide details of how the funds will be used to achieve those goals, and how you will measure the positive impact you generate for startup businesses in Maine. Evidence should be provided to substantiate your claims regarding your impact metrics. Be sure to address each bullet point noted in all seven sections of the Application Word Document questions.

If I have Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint decks and Word documents already created to support my plan, can I use those as part of my application?

  • Yes. If plans have already been created using Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, those files can be uploaded and referenced in your application.
  • You will still need to address all information requested in the seven sections of the Application Word Document. You can either (a) include your existing materials in your primary application document, to be uploaded in the online application portal (NOTE: there is a limit of 25MB on file size for upload), or (b) email additional documents separately to [email protected]
  • If you choose to email additional documents, please be sure to reference your organization’s name as entered in your submitted online application.
  • Upon review, we may reach out to the applicant for additional information or clarification.

What options — other than MTI — are available to receive federal funding?

  • Many other state, regional, and municipal organizations are also administering portions of the available federal funding. If you apply for funds administered through MTI’s PRIME Ecosystem program and are not awarded funding, or if your award is less than you expected or need, we will connect you with other American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding options that may be a better fit for your organization.
  • More information about these other funding opportunities in the state can be found on the ME Jobs and Recovery Plan (MJRP) website.

What is the deadline for the application?

The application portal for the PRIME Ecosystem Fund CLOSED at 11:59 PM on November 15, 2022. If we have questions regarding your application, we may reach out during the months of November and December.

When will awards be announced and when will funds be available?

We anticipate award announcements will be made by the end of December 2022, and provided we have the Form W-9 and all necessary signed documents, including the MTI award contract, initial funds should be released in early 2023.

What are the reporting requirements from MTI?

  • This program is supported by federal government funds and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Maine has specific reporting requirements back to the federal government on a quarterly basis regarding how the funds were used and the status of the projects/programs.
  • We also anticipate a brief survey will be sent to each awardee asking for updates on the project/program and key performance indicators (KPIs) metrics vs. plan every 6 months.

Will I need to sign a contract with MTI if I receive an award?

  • We plan to execute a simple agreement with each awardee to confirm that the information provided is accurate, the Form W-9 provided is accurate, and you are a going concern (an active organization) that meets the eligibility requirements.
  • We will also confirm compliance with Federal rules asking awardees to confirm that they and their principal employees are not barred from doing business with the Federal government.
  • The contract will also cover the award schedule and, if applicable, the milestones which must be met for traunched payments.

How much support will MTI provide to prospective applicants developing their proposals?

We recognize there may be parts of this application that require some assistance. We will conduct at least two open Zoom meetings to provide guidance and answer questions for all applicants. These meetings will be recorded. If a question is very specific to an organization, we may ask to move you into a Zoom breakout room where you can receive individual assistance.

We have also created an email which will be monitored by MTI staff to answer questions regarding the PRIME Ecosystem Fund. We aim to answer all questions within one business day. That email address is: [email protected]

What are some examples of unallowable expenses?

Funds must be used to implement your plan and directly address negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Types of expenses which would NOT be allowed include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Entertainment
  • Lobbying
  • Goods and Services for Personal Use
  • Litigation
  • Fines, Penalties, Damages and other Settlements

Will organizations with a significant Maine presence, but out-of-state ownership, be eligible?

  • Yes. Organizations that have a project/program that meets the project/program objectives and are targeted to Maine startup businesses, preferably in Maine’s technology sectors are welcome to apply for funding.
  • However, it is expected that the project/program will be implemented in Maine and that the organization will build a significant presence in the state as the project/program is implemented.
  • An organization which is headquartered outside of Maine must be registered to be eligible to do business in the state through the Secretary of State’s Office.

How do I get or find my Unique Entity ID (UEID) number and is there any cost to me to obtain a UEID number?

On April 4, 2022, the unique entity identifier used across the federal government changed from the DUNS number to the Unique Entity ID number generated by SAM.gov. The Unique Entity ID (UEID) number is required and free to obtain. We will need to report all awards to the federal government and include the UEID number for that account.

  • The Unique Entity ID number is a 12-character alphanumeric ID assigned to an entity by SAM.gov.
  • As part of this transition, the DUNS number has been removed from SAM.gov.
  • Entity registration, searching, and data entry in SAM.gov now require use of the new Unique Entity ID number.
  • Existing registered entities can find their Unique Entity ID number by following the steps here.
  • New entities can get their Unique Entity ID number at SAM.gov and, if required, complete an entity registration.
  • The SAM.gov website has a video and a list of FAQs. (Videos can be found halfway down the SAM.gov page.)
  • Please note — the registration process allows you to obtain just a Unique Entity ID (UEID) number or also to register your business so that you can bid on government contracts. The video indicates that you need to register your entity to get federal awards. The award you are applying for through the PRIME Ecosystem Fund is NOT a direct federal award. Unless you plan to bid on government contracts most applicants for the PRIME Ecosystem Fund only need to sign up for the UEID number. (Easier and faster.)
  • If you have attempted to register your UEID number with SAM.gov but have received a message stating your request requires further review, you can still proceed with MTI’s online application for the PRIME Ecosystem Fund. Click here to learn more. However, please note that we cannot make any award payment if the UEID number has not been assigned to the organization from SAM.gov.

How can I learn more about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB)?

  • Over the past year, MTI has undertaken a deliberate effort to better understand how to implement DEIB practices in its own operations and how to foster greater DEIB practices within the Maine entrepreneurial ecosystem and, more specifically, in the companies it funds. Companies that embrace these concepts to guide their culture will prove to be some of the most successful in the state. Programs developed to support entrepreneurship in companies with diverse ownership will be favorably viewed by MTI reviewers.
  • Click here to learn more.

What are the components of “Quality Jobs” and is education and focus on this effort an important component of any project/program?

  • MTI is committed to helping companies create high-quality positions. This is not an easy process, and it takes resources and dedication on the part of the leadership. However, the impact to the company and eventually to the workforce in Maine will be profound.
  • As part of the PRIME Ecosystem Fund, we will be asking applicants to think about the components of a quality position and indicated if they have incorporated any aspects of a quality job definition into their culture.
  • For further details, click here.