Dirigo Labs Hires Emalee Couture as Growth Manager

Waterville, ME, 12/15/2021 – Central Maine Growth Council (CMGC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Emalee Couture as Growth Manager for Dirigo Labs, a Waterville-based startup accelerator. Couture will be responsible for developing and managing relationships with a variety of organizations, startups, founders, and business professionals across New England, catalyzing entrepreneurship and innovation for both the mid-Maine region and the accelerator to ensure successful use of the Dirigo Labs platforms and suite of services.

“Maine has always felt like home to me,” states Couture. “I grew up here, went to school here, and I’m so excited to be back in the state I love and have the opportunity to work for Dirigo Labs to support the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the central Maine region.”

CMGC designed and led the initiative to create Dirigo Labs, encouraging the establishment of a vibrant startup hub for the mid-Maine region. In 2020, CMGC received a federal grant from the U.S. Economic Development Agency’s (EDA) Build-to Scale (B2S) Venture Challenge to implement the 1.2M project. Core to the initiative will be the development of an innovation hub model that combines an entrepreneurship center, coworking space for remote workers, and an accelerator platform that empowers and connects entrepreneurs and startups with the innovation ecosystem, venture funding, and an entrepreneurial community to aggressively scale and master their business.

Emalee previously served as an Associate Officer at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) Technology Licensing Office where she was responsible for evaluating and protecting inventions and working with entrepreneurs and established companies to execute on intellectual property agreements, enabling the commercialization of MIT inventions. Emalee graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics with a concentration in Mechanical Engineering.

“Emalee is a perfect example of a “boomeranger” who has returned to Maine with much-needed experience that will ultimately help build a stronger economic future for our state,” said Susan Ruhlin, managing director of Dirigo Labs. “Her expertise in technology licensing and intellectual property assessment will be pivotal for the Dirigo Labs’ startup community; we are thrilled to have her on our growing and dynamic team.”

Applications for the Accelerator will open in late 2021, with an anticipated launch in early 2022. The cohort of innovation-based startups will participate in an entrepreneurship-focused curriculum, targeted mentoring sessions, and leverage the academic expertise from the accelerator’s partner institutions, student interns, and the region’s general business community. For more information about Dirigo Labs and Central Maine Growth Council, please visit

About Central Maine Growth Council: 

Central Maine Growth Council (CMGC), located in Waterville, Maine, is a public-private collaborative regional economic development partnership funded by municipalities and businesses who share a common vision of economic prosperity for our region. CMGC is committed to fostering a robust regional economy. We believe that a vibrant, healthy economy best serves our citizens’ standard of living and quality of life.

About Dirigo Labs:

As a public-private economic development partnership fostering a robust mid-Maine economy, CMGC is organizing the tech industry’s ability to transition the post-manufacturing economy through the Dirigo Labs initiative. Through this initiative, Dirigo Labs will galvanize mid-Maine’s unique diversity of academic institutions and tech firms to develop a startup accelerator that harnesses the entrepreneurship and digital skills of our students, graduates, academic faculty, and business owners to build a sustainable tech and innovation hub that powers a thriving rural economy.

Central Maine Growth Council Awarded $25,000 from The U.S. Small Business Administration and National Science and Technology Council’s New Lab-to-Market Prize Competition

WATERVILLE, ME 2/17/2021 – Central Maine Growth Council (CMGC) has been selected by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in partnership with the National Science and Technology Council’s Lab-to-Market subcommittee, to receive a $25,000 grant to support Dirigo Labs. CMGC was one of more than 160 applicants from across the United States and the only recipient in New England.

Submitted under the ‘Visionary’ category, the competition purse was awarded to applicants who demonstrated the most inventive and actionable ideas toward creating a more inclusive R&D innovation ecosystem for the future. The competition’s goal is to encourage entrepreneurship and sustainable growth by developing and commercializing technology to improve access to resources. The SBA, in partnership with the National Science and Technology Council’s Lab-to-Market subcommittee, awarded $330,000 in prizes to the winners of the Lab-to-Market (L2M) Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem Prize Competition. On Thursday, February 18, CMGC and other L2M grant recipients will be recognized by the SBA in a virtual awards ceremony. The ceremony will also spotlight current Federal efforts toward advancing entrepreneurship and improving the transfer of federally funded research into the marketplace.

“Connectivity and coordination across R&D innovation ecosystems is even more critical today to support recovery from potential COVID-19 impacts on high growth startups,” said Diane Sturgeon, Acting District Director of SBA’s Maine District Office, “Ensuring that access to resources and capital are available to all Americans is essential in creating a robust and dynamic workforce with inclusive growth, and ensuring that the benefits of entrepreneurship accrue across the nation. By investing in local organizations, the SBA is providing resources to those who understand their communities best, and are able to leverage their knowledge on behalf of Maine’s entrepreneurs.” 

Dirigo Labs, an initiative and regional technology accelerator program designed by CMGC, was previously selected to receive approximately $600,000 from the Economic Development Agency’s (EDA) Build-to Scale Venture Challenge in 2020 as part of Dirigo Labs’ 1.2M project budget. The EDA investment will assist in fostering innovation and collaboratively support Maine-based entrepreneurs to stimulate the establishment and growth of technology-based start-ups in mid-Maine. 

“We are honored to be recognized by the national Lab-to-Market competition for our commitments to Maine-based entrepreneurs, small businesses, and the state’s innovation landscape,” says Garvan Donegan, director of planning, innovation & economic development at CMGC. “The Dirigo Labs initiative will support synergy between central Maine’s diverse educational assets and an increasing nexus of rural remote workers to build an associated network of resources for innovation fellows, entrepreneurs, and startup companies.”

Dirigo Labs will focus on Maine-based, high-growth industry sectors, including bioeconomy, information technology, financial services, and innovation within Maine’s legacy industries of precision manufacturing and blue economy jobs, which extends to emerging environmental technologies in marine and aquaculture clusters.

About Central Maine Growth Council:

The Central Maine Growth Council (CMGC), located in Waterville, Maine, is a public-private collaborative regional economic development partnership funded by municipalities and businesses who share a common vision of economic prosperity for our region. CMGC is committed to fostering a robust regional economy. Our belief is that the standard of living and quality of life of our citizens is best served by a vibrant, healthy economy. This is accomplished with a strong successful business community.

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