A group of nonprofit organizations working collaboratively to promote a Life Sciences & Technology Hub of Excellence in Eastern Maine has received a $10,000 grant from the Maine Community Foundation’s Downeast Innovation Fund. According to organizers, the Hub of Excellence will build awareness in Maine and beyond of the region’s depth and breadth of facilities, opportunities, and talent engaged in life sciences and technology. The Hub will create connections among R&D, education, entrepreneurship, and investment, provide networking and learning opportunities, and promote a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.  The grant will be used to develop messaging and marketing materials, including a website, that will help job seekers, new entrepreneurs, and investors get connected.

Eastern Maine has the highest concentration of biomedical research expertise and National Institutes of Health funding in the state of Maine and The Jackson Laboratory, University of Maine, Downeast Institute and MDI Biological Laboratory are all located between Orono and coastal Hancock and Washington Counties and conduct federally-supported research in life sciences. Judy Sproule of MDI Biological Laboratory in Bar Harbor is one of the Hub’s Advisory Committee members. Sproule says the group has already identified 28 companies, six research institutions, four academic institutions, five technical training institutions, two outreach organizations, 14 incubators, accelerators and workspaces, and four economic and business development organizations which together comprise a supportive “ecosystem.”  “If this Hub is promoted and managed deliberately, it can spark more collaboration, innovation, and economic development,” said Sproule, “and attract even more talent to the region.”

Fostering Hubs of Excellence is a key strategy in Maine’s Ten-Year Economic Development Plan, which defines them as areas with conditions present for strong economic growth, driven by talent and a convergence of research, higher learning, skilled workforce and business, and a livable, healthy space. The Eastern Maine Hub was the first to be officially recognized as a collaborator on the strategic plan by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD).

Other members of the initial Advisory Committee include leadership from the University of Maine, Downeast Institute, Maine Small Business Development Centers at Coastal Enterprises, Inc, and Mount Desert 365. These individuals met at an innovation networking event sponsored by Maine Community Foundation in 2019 and began planning for the Hub soon after. Those interested in connecting with the group are encouraged to contact hub@lifesciencesmaine.com.

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