20 Entrepreneurs across Maine receive $411,268 in MTI Seed Grants leveraging $626,880 in additional | Business

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20 Entrepreneurs across Maine receive $411,268 in MTI Seed Grants leveraging $626,880 in additional

REVISED 20 Entrepreneurs across Maine receive $411,268 in MTI Seed Grants leveraging $626,880 in additional investment

At its February meeting, the Maine Technology Institute (MTI) Board of Directors awarded $411,268 in 20 new Seed Grants to entrepreneurs from Old Town and Orono to Camden and Rockport to York. MTI Seed Grants support early-stage research and development activities for entrepreneurs to bring new products to market.  Seed Grants were awarded in five of the state’s seven technology sectors; advanced technologies for forestry and agriculture, aquaculture and marine technology, biotechnology, environmental technologies and information technology. The entrepreneurs were required to match their grants at least dollar for dollar.  They leveraged $626,880 of matching contributions. 

“We congratulations these entrepreneurs on successfully competing for these highly competitive grants and matching the MTI funding with at least $1 for every $1.” said MTI President Betsy Biemann, on the announcement.  “As they move forward with their ideas, we look forward to continuing to work with them to help them achieve sales and grow good jobs for Maine people.”

The February Seed Grant Awardees and projects by industry sector are:

Advanced Technologies for Forestry and Agriculture

Stirling Consulting, Inc., Yarmouth
This Seed Grant will fund a novel release paper project. The use of nanofibrillated cellulose offers a strong potential for Maine-based paper manufacturing capacity to effectively participate in this growing value-added paper market. This project will establish the base line standards and the prototype product design in preparation for pilot work planned at the University of Maine Process Development Center.
Award: $8,995 Match: $9,195

PelletCo, LLC, Orono
This Seed Grant will fund composite fuel commercialization testing. Pelletco has developed and is commercializing a high-energy composite fuel pellet that is moisture resistant and provides 11,000 BTU/LB versus dry wood at 8,000 BTU/LB. Pelletco needs comprehensive emissions and heat generation data from existing biomass boilers in order to accelerate the commercialization of composite biomass fuel. Pelletco will test and compare fuel heat generation and emissions characteristics of Pelletco fuel with other fuels typically used for thermal energy. This test data will enable Pelletco to provide potential customers with comparison data on the heating performance and the emissions characteristics of various fuels leading to accelerated fuel substitution decisions.
Award: $25,000 Match: $39,000

Aquaculture and Marine Technology

University of Maine, Orono
This Seed Grant will fund the development of abalone culture as a sustainable business. Pacific abalone are a high value aquaculture species that are about to be reared in Maine for the first time. To make the growing of abalone a sustainable business in this area, where they are not native and brood stock are difficult to obtain, a process is required for repeatedly spawning brood stock in a captive environment. The development of protocols for repeat conditioning and spawning of captive abalone will allow for additional growers within Maine to expand into this high-value aquaculture product that has a large market potential within the US and globally.
Award: $17,011 Match: $17,887

University of Maine, Orono
This Seed Grant will fund the development of a new biological trap for sea lice. The sea louse is currently the greatest economic threat to Atlantic salmon culture in the North Atlantic. A biological sea lice trap consisting of mussel rafts containing slow-release semiochemicals may reduce sea lice densities while contributing to environmental and economic sustainability. Semiochemicals would attract planktonic sea lice larva without affecting other plankton. The filter-feeding mussels would remove sea lice from the water column. We propose to demonstrate that the addition of semiochemicals to a mussel mass enhances the reduction of sea lice settlement on co-habitating Atlantic salmon as proof of concept to develop and commercialize a biological sea lice trap.
Award: $14,387 Match: $14,397


Butterfield Technologies, LLC, Portland
Butterfield Technologies, LLC intends to commercialize and market its patented medical device, the Pleurabrade™. This exclusive technology will fill a need for cardiothoracic surgeons who perform the pleurodesis procedures. Inventors, Keith and Kevin Butterfield, are seeking matching seed funding from MTI to support their personal financial investments in: 1) proof of concept (including prototype creation and live porcine lab testing), 2) submission of FDA 510(k) notification, and 3) pre-manufacturing marketing elements to include publication and presentation of the findings from the proof of concept lab by the performing cardiothoracic surgeon as well as website development. This is the first of several product launches planned by Butterfield Technologies, which is a Maine-based company led by natives of Gorham, Maine.
Award: $25,000 Match: $46,524



Environmental Technology

Rohrer Technologies, Inc. York
This Seed Grant is funding performance enhancements and mountings for Rohrer Technologies, Inc’s G2. Rohrer Technologies Inc (RTI) has developed a deep water deployable Submergible Ocean Wave Energy Converter, the “G2”, an elongated, self-orienting, wave front parallel, semi-submerged, utility scale wave energy absorption barrier. It utilizes light weight composites, rather than heavy, costly steel plate, to reduce cost and increase performance. Previous G2 wave tank testing used a rigid mounting system. A floating mount will be required for deployments exceeding 50 meters ocean depth, typical of the Gulf of Maine. RTI will utilize UMO to analyze performance impacts of proposed G2 mounting/mooring systems, including attachments to fixed and floating off-shore wind turbines while RTI prepares a floating mount G2 model for future testing in UMO’s new wave tank.
Award: $25,000 Match: $25,000

This Seed Grant Is funding a process to mechanize production of WOOLY ROUNDS.  WOOLY ROUNDS is a small Camden-based business that manufactures and distributes felted wool dryer balls. WOOLY ROUNDS wool dryer balls have the ability to help conserve energy by reducing dry time in a clothes dryer. Since inception in October 2010, over 3000 balls have been produced, all by hand. Due to increase in market demand for this product, and the desire to grow this company, I am seeking assistance for manufacturing scale-up in order for production to be partially or completely mechanized and volume increased by developing a machine with the University’s Manufacturing Applications Center (MA) at USM.
Award: $4,687 Match: $4,700

University of Maine System acting through the University of Maine, Orono This Seed Grant is funding a detailed dost of energy analysis for SWF System, Submerged Web Foundation. Submerged Wed Foundation (SWF) is a novel approach to overcoming the challenges of making a cost-competitive deepwater foundation for offshore wind farms. Preliminary hydrodynamic analysis supported by MTI last year has generated very encouraging results, and the team is preparing to conduct detailed Cost of Energy (COE) analysis of the SWF system prior to further R&D activities. This follow-up grant would fund the COE analysis that would strengthen future grant proposals and help fund raising and business development activities. The expected outcome is a final report of the detailed COE analysis.
Award: $25,000 Match: $25,000

Beltane Solar Inc., Topsham
This Seed Grant is funding a concentrating solar PV-Thermal prototype. Beltane Solar Inc. is commercializing technology that will concentrate the sun’s energy to create power and hot water. The design has a total efficiency of >60% yet is simple, scalable, reliable and low cost. Future accessories will allow energy autonomous water desalination and sanitation for grid-isolated applications worldwide. We believe you should “get more from the sun™.” Beltane Solar will utilize the seed grant to complete the design and development of our solar module in a ¼ scale and full-size operating version, test and verify the module’s safety and performance and demonstrate the performance to potential customers.
Award: $25,000 Match: $39,250


Sani Seat, Portland. 
This sanitation improvement project consists of the building, testing and improving of a working prototype for the fully-developed design of the Sani Seat, a simple-to-use and inexpensive pedal system that attaches to any toilet to lift and lower the seat.  The goal of this project is to improve the cleanliness of public and private male restrooms by creating an environment in which stall seats remain raised if up or can be easily lifted if down without the use of one’s hands.  The result of the project will be a fully refined and operational design ready for mass production and commercialization.
Award: $8,000 Match: $8,000

James W. Sewall Company, Old Town. 
This project will develop a cost-effective method for mapping the potential for solar P-V electrical generation on rooftops using LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) as compared to aerial photography databases.  Sewall will determine the slope, aspect, and shading for rooftops in three pilot areas and calculate the costs using each method.  Revision Energy will provide Sewall information and guidance to develop maps showing solar potential for cities useful for a) long-range planning, and b) development of micro-grids or neighborhood-scale electric cooperatives.  We will also provide solar installation companies with PV potential by house address, using our city mapping databases.
Award: $24,958 Match: $26,870

Information Technology

Howell MSI INC, Westbrook
This Seed Grant is funding multispectral Imaging Phase 3.  Howell MSI will use proprietary photographic technology to create digital archives of cultural artifacts for scientific study, reproduction and proof of authenticity. This proposal focuses on completion of a device equipped with fifteen color filters, from ultraviolet through infrared, and two fixed light sources to photograph multispectral images of reflective media and artwork including transparent negatives and slides and paintings.
Award: $12,500 Match: $84,270

J. Weston Walch, Portland
This Seed Grant is funding an educational publishing platform. Walch Publishing is developing a cloud-based platform to expedite the process of authoring, managing, publishing and monetizing highly customized educational materials. In public education, there is a growing demand for accessible resources that meet the specific requirements of individual district, school, classrooms and student. Incumbent solutions are “one size fits all” and based on legacy architectures. Only through such a modern platform can this pressing need be met conveniently and cost effectively. MTI funding will help us to take advantage of important opportunities for commercialization in the Spring/Summer of 2012 and to revitalize our 80-year-old Maine company.
Award: $25,000 Match: $64,435

VetEnvoy, Inc., Portland
This Seed Grant is funding VetEnvoy’s Telemedicine Transfer Protocol. VetEnvoy, Inc. has developed a software hub for connecting veterinary clinics electronically with veterinary suppliers and businesses. Vet Envoy has developed and commercialized protocols for transferring medical records and information through their software platform. Significant market potential has been identified for the development of a diagnostic image protocol that would allow clinics and suppliers to share greater amounts of information and increase health communications efficiency. This project will focus on determining the market and technical feasibility of bidirectional telemedicine communications through VetEnvoy, and lead to a large research and development project involving the prototyping and ultimate deployment of a market-ready solution.
Award: $21,000 Match: $28,600

Refill Management Systems, LLC, Yarmouth This Seed Grant is funding a market and regulatory analysis for commercializing. Refill Management Systems LLC, a Maine-based software company, is innovating the way medical practices and pharmacies manage medication renewals, leading to improved efficiency and better quality. With funding from Maine Technology Institute, RMS will undertake a comprehensive regulatory, technical and market review of its proposed business model. With the results of that review, RMS will be able to develop its business plan to be used to raise additional capital for commercialization.
Award: $25,000 Match: $31,600

Cambium Enterprises, Yarmouth. 
Possibility U is a college admissions software and services provider that supports aspiring students with the high-stakes decisions related to discovering, choosing and getting into a college where they will succeed – academically, socially and financially.  The market for college admissions services is large and growing.  As the cost of college continues to escalate, it is more important than ever to make a good match the first time around.  Finding the right fit often reduces the overall cost of attendance to a family and increases student confidence and success during their college career.
Award: $25,000 Match: $38,032

Chimani, LLC, Yarmouth. 
Chimani LLC proposes to develop a social platform which encourages individuals to increase outdoor recreation and connect with related non-profit organizations and businesses.  The grant will provide resources to prototype a design and product.
Award: $25,000 Match: $25,000

Maine Marine Composites LLC, Portland. 
Maine Marine Composites is developing a sensor system to collect multi-point pressure data on large surfaces immersed in fluids.  Modules containing piezoresistive sensors and supporting electronics can be daisy-chained together to cover large, irregular surfaces.  This project will result in preliminary design, prototype construction, and field test program of a large area pressure array system.  The project will result in an innovative, flexible pressure sensor system with broad applications in research and process control, and also in a comprehensive marketing plan for the project.
Award: $24,730 Match: $41,400

Precision Manufacturing

Karkos Group, LLC, Cumberland Foreside. 
The Karkos Group, LLC in Lewiston is developing a new technology kitchen appliance.  The MTI funding will be used to advance the product design and prototype development with engineering and testing support from the Advanced Manufacturing Center at the University of Maine in Orono.
Award: $25,000  Match: $32,720

Greenwood Tech Strategies LLC, Rockport. 
Greenwood Tech Strategies, LLC, a new Maine company, proposes to design and develop Meso-scale wireless Sensors to detect strain and stress in US Military Aircraft components.  Utilizing new laser direct-write micro-manufacturing technology, miniaturized sensors meet size requirements of the market- specific application, while eliminating photolithography and other expensive, slower, non-green processes.  The technology is ideal for prototyping or small production runs, allowing customization of sensors.
Award: $25,000 Match: $25,000

MTI Seed Grants of up to $25,000 are offered three times a year to support early-stage research and development activities for new products and services that lead to the market. Funded activities may include activities such as proof of concept work, prototype development, field trials, prototype testing, pilot studies, or technology transfer activities.  Funded projects must fall under one of Maine’s seven targeted technology sectors. MTI offers Seed Grants as direct investments in companies that are pioneering Maine’s future through their technology innovations. Loan recipients are companies undertaking research and development that will enable them to grow and remain competitive in the global marketplace. The next Seed Grant application deadline is April 12

MTI is a publicly financed, private nonprofit organization created by the Legislature to stimulate research and development activity leading to the commercialization of new products, processes and services in the state's seven technology-intensive sectors. Programs are designed to enhance the competitive position of those sectors and increase the likelihood that one or more of the sectors will support clusters of industrial activity and create quality jobs across Maine. More about MTI at: www.mainetechnology.org.



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