Ten Maine companies will receive a total of $2.16 million to advance creative projects from a bond approved by voters in June 2017.
The Maine Technology Institute, which manages the Maine Technology Asset Fund 2.5 program financed by the bond, kicked in just over $200,000. Brian Whitney, its president, said Monday he was encouraged to award the money during a time when the pandemic is putting downward pressure on businesses and the economy. The nonprofit was created in 1999 by the Legislature to stimulate research and development and commercialization activity in the state.
“The projects align well with the state’s newly adapted 10-year strategic economic development plan and have meaningful economic impacts, especially to rural Maine,” Whitney said.
He said the money also will create and retain more than 1,600 jobs across Maine. The institute received 84 applications for the money from companies ranging from startups to mature entities, but all had innovative ideas they wanted to fund.
The Eastport Port Authority, which got $307,500 to perform a final test on an advanced shipboard heat-treating system for which it has an exclusive license. It is the final phase of a $10 million investment made over the past decade to expand Maine forest products. The goal is to export underutilized Maine fiber to the European Union for renewable energy and power projects.
STARC Systems of Brunswick also got $307,500 to invest in automated equipment to make isolation panels to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in hospitals.
Twin Rivers Paper of Madawaska was awarded $300,000 to improve a paper machine to make lightweight technical packaging and specialty labels, while Acadian Composite Materials of Limestone got $280,000 to advance a high-performance structural insulated panel made from recycled, single-use beverage bottles.
Springworks Farm Maine of Lisbon plans to use the $300,000 it was awarded to improve its aquaponic systems, a combination of water and fish fertilizer used to grow organically certified lettuce and fish.
Two mushroom-related companies drew awards. North Spore of Westbrook got $164,418 to improve its equipment and labs for its value-added mushroom-growing supplies. Farming Fungi of Springvale got $42,700 to develop a technology-based indoor agriculture control system for mushrooms, fruit and other indoor agriculture.
Freshwater eel seller American Unagi of Waldoboro got $175,000 to expand its processing equipment to increase output and expand its market reach.
Nyle Systems, a Brewer maker of lumber kilns, food dehydrators and other industrial equipment got $142,981 to double its production space and create new products.
Lyman Morse of Thomaston plans to use its $140,000 award to make its aluminum fabrication workshop more efficient.