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sabrina@centralmaine.org

Following its Successful Launch, Dirigo Labs Opens Applications for Second Cohort of Startup Companies

(left to right) BluShift Aerospace Team Members – Lead Mechanical Engineer Luke Saindon, CEO and Founder Sascha Deri, and Operations Manager Lindsay Becker – receive a $25,000 cash prize from the Dirigo Labs Inaugural Pitch Competition Prize in Waterville.

Waterville, ME 9/15/2022 – Dirigo Labs announced today that applications for its second accelerator cohort will open on September 19th, 2022. The 12-week program offers a targeted curriculum, mentorship, and a dedicated workspace at Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space.

“After a thorough quality assurance process that included surveys and exit interviews, we look forward to implementing the first cohort’s recommendations into the program for the second class of entrepreneurs,” said Dirigo Labs Program Manager Emalee Couture.

The program will begin at the end of January and culminate with a pitch competition and cash prize award in early May. Startup teams are assigned a group of mentors selected from a national pool of seasoned professionals and industry experts. This year, founders will also have access to coaching sessions with an Entrepreneur-in-Residence who brings experience as a successful founder, entrepreneur, and innovator.

“We are excited to build out our portfolio of successful startups and strategic partnerships,” said Dirigo Labs Managing Director Susan Ruhlin. “We want to be the conduit that connects them to our unique network of people and resources.”

Since the program began, the inaugural cohort demonstrated significant growth and impact in the areas of job creation, fundraising, sales, and business expansion. Dirigo Labs has continued to monitor their progress since the end of the cohort.

Sascha Deri, Founder and CEO of bluShift Aerospace, who won the $25,000 pitch prize sponsored by Skowhegan Savings Bank at the pitch event in June, stated, “The staff did a remarkable job connecting me with the resources and help we needed at that very moment in time for our business. I quickly came to value the camaraderie in sharing and receiving advice from other entrepreneurs in Maine. It was amazing to see so many of us in the cohort shared common challenges despite being in completely different industries.”

For additional information and a link to the accelerator application, please visit www.dirigolabs.org or email Emalee@centralmaine.org.

About Dirigo Labs: Dirigo Labs is a regional startup accelerator based in Waterville, Maine. With a mission to grow mid-Maine’s digital economy by supporting entrepreneurs building innovation-based companies, the Dirigo Labs ecosystem brings together people, resources, and organizations to ensure the successful launch of new startups. Dirigo Labs operates under Central Maine Growth Council and is supported by several organizations, academic institutions, and investment firms. For more information, please visit www.dirigolabs.org

bluShift Aerospace Announced Winner of Dirigo Labs Inaugural Pitch Competition Prize of $25,000

(left to right) BluShift Aerospace Team Members – Lead Mechanical Engineer Luke Saindon, CEO and Founder Sascha Deri, and Operations Manager Lindsay Becker – receive a $25,000 cash prize from the Dirigo Labs Inaugural Pitch Competition Prize in Waterville.

Waterville, ME 6/22/2022 – Maine-based bluShift Aerospace successfully secured a $25,000 prize sponsored by Skowhegan Savings Bank. Based in Brunswick, Maine, bluShift is reducing the environmental impact of the space industry by utilizing bio-derived fueled hybrid rockets. In 2021, bluShift launched the first commercial rocket in the world powered by non-toxic, carbon-neutral, bio-derived fuel. 

“Being a member of the Dirigo Labs accelerator has been incredibly rewarding,” said Sascha Deri, founder and CEO of bluShift Aerospace. “With this $25,000 prize, bluShift can now move ahead with a series of critical milestones, including an FAA launch analysis and a rapid-fire sequence of exciting engine tests. We are incredibly grateful to the mentors and advisors at Dirigo who have been critical to our progress.”

Hosted at Colby College, twelve companies competed for the cash prize. The judging criteria included pitch delivery, capital strategy, and impact on entrepreneurship in Maine. The 12-week program guided startups through a targeted curriculum to execute their project plans, and each cohort company worked with a curated board of local and national mentors from various industries. Seminar topics included utilizing public-private sector grants and economic incentives, customer acquisition strategies, capital planning, and intellectual property evaluation.

“We are proud to support the first Dirigo Labs Accelerator pitch contest and partner with such an amazing group of local makers,” said Skowhegan Savings Bank SVP of Sales Dan Tilton. “Our mission at Skowhegan Savings is to ‘Make our communities a better place to live and work’. This group of incredible entrepreneurs are doing just that by bringing innovative products and services to market. I look forward to seeing them continue to flourish and drive economic growth throughout Maine and beyond.”

Receiving both the pitch competition prize and the ‘Audience Choice Award’, bluShift was provided with a 1-year dedicated desk membership to Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space in Waterville. In addition to bluShift’s dedicated desk, each company that participated in the cohort received a two-year floating desk membership to Bricks. Leveraging the coworking space and the organization’s launch space in Brunswick, bluShift will continue to expand its operations within central Maine and beyond.

“I started working with bluShift four years ago as a contractor creating all their videos with the talented team at Knack Factory. It is incredible to see the organization’s continued growth and success,” states Lindsay Becker, Operations Manager at bluShift Aerospace. “Having the opportunity to enter the company as a full-time employee, along with winning the pitch prize, has shown me that Maine-based tech companies have the ability to grow and prosper in Maine, and I look forward to seeing the company secure the talent it needs to succeed in both the short- and long term.”

For startups and potential mentors interested in learning more about Dirigo Labs, please visit www.dirigolabs.org.

About Dirigo Labs:

Dirigo Labs is a regional startup accelerator based in Waterville, Maine. With a mission to grow the greater Waterville area’s digital economy by supporting entrepreneurs building innovation-based companies, the Dirigo Labs ecosystem brings together people, resources, and organizations to ensure the successful launch of new startups. Dirigo Labs operates under Central Maine Growth Council and is supported by several organizations, academic institutions, and investment firms. To learn more about Dirigo Labs, please visit www.dirigolabs.org.

About Skowhegan Savings:Skowhegan Savings Bank has been dedicated to strengthening Maine’s families, businesses, and communities by providing personalized and competitive banking services to the regions they serve for 150 years. An independent mutual savings bank based in Skowhegan, our mission is to provide customers with exceptional service in an innovative banking environment that effectively and efficiently puts the financial needs of the customer first. Skowhegan Savings takes pride in not only being a great place to bank but also a great place to work. For more information about Skowhegan Savings, please visit Skowhegan.com or contact our Customer Service line at 800.303.9511.

Dirigo Labs To Host Pitch Competition for Inaugural Cohort of 12 Startups

Waterville, ME 6/15/2022 – Dirigo Labs, Maine’s newest accelerator, will be hosting a pitch competition for its cohort companies at Colby College on Tuesday, June 21 from, 5-8 pm. The competition will highlight each company’s product or service and judge pitches based on each company’s pitch delivery, capital strategy, and impact on entrepreneurship in Maine. 

Twelve companies will each have 5 minutes to present their company to a panel of judges for a chance to win the $25,000 cash prize sponsored by Skowhegan Savings Bank. “Dirigo Labs’ pitch competition will bring the most promising entrepreneurs together in one event that will display the businesses they are building from the ground up,” states Dirigo Labs Managing Director Susan Ruhlin. 

“Leveraging both local and national mentors, Dirigo Labs has continued to empower its startups to refine their pitches, highlight their unique value propositions, and celebrate their contributions to Maine’s entrepreneurial landscape,” elaborates Central Maine Growth Council Director of Planning, Innovation, and Economic Development Garvan Donegan. “We invite the community to attend this competition to meet our cohort companies and commemorate their incredible growth and development.”

“It’s exciting for me as a lender, and the bank, to see what may become of some of these very impressive entrepreneurs,” said Steve Thomas, SVP Senior Commercial Lender. “Skowhegan Savings has been serving Maine business customers for over 150 years; we are personally invested in the state – we want to see the state be successful. I think that the Dirigo Labs program will help develop central Maine, and our foundation looks forward to presenting the winner with that $25,000 check to take their business to the next level.”

Companies who will be participating in the pitch competition include: 

An online community think tank open to anyone, built upon fun idea challenge tournaments, for creative, imaginative people to help solve problems big and small, and get better at innovating. Earn prize money and funding and start new projects together.

bluShift Aerospace
Brunswick, ME

An aerospace company reducing the environmental impact of the space industry with their proprietary bio-fueled, hybrid rockets and democratizing access to space with dedicated and frequent suborbital and orbital launches for small satellites.

Proprietary genetic testing and colony planning expertise providing clear guidance for the breeding, management, and selection of laboratory animals used in academic and biomedical research.

The Good Crust
Canaan, ME

Artisan pizza dough manufacturing using 100% freshly milled grains from Maine with a commitment to providing workforce development training to Mainers with unique needs.

Hussey Medical, LLC
Waterville, ME

A medical device company developing a product for ostomy bag patients using sensor technology to signal capacity limits.

Maine Float
Winthrop, ME

Patent-pending motorized and steerable floating picnic tables found across lakes and ponds in Maine and New England.

Ocean Farm Supply
Brunswick, ME

Value add manufacturer of the Ocean Harvest Bag®, a bag woven from biodegradable, compostable fiber designed explicitly for the harvest and distribution of shellfish and produce.  

Phoebe’s Call
Rockland, ME

Luxury, cannabis confections for women by women, made with vegan, gluten-free, and ethically sourced ingredients from the U.S.

Prospector Portal
Waterville, ME

Software as a service (SaaS) platform using AI to synthesize public technical data into an organized and searchable interface to help users find potential mineral assets, analyze technical reports, and make informed decisions.

SlicPix
Dresden, ME

SaaS platform with patented solutions for businesses to transform static web images into unique, interactive pathways leading to multimedia stories, social sharing, and convenient purchasing options, increasing engagement rates, and revenue while personalizing experiences, ultimately building brand loyalty.

TrustedRentr
Milford, ME

SaaS platform that improves tenant screening while building renter’s credit scores to help landlords and tenants work together to create closer communities.

Wingspans
Providence, RI & Waterville, ME

SaaS platform that helps diverse youth find a career through rich, personal stories and helps companies drive racial and ethnic diversity in their talent pipelines.

To learn more about Dirigo Labs’ pitch competition and how you can attend in person, please visit https://tinyurl.com/2p82dhzm. For startups and potential mentors interested in learning more about Dirigo Labs, please visit www.dirigolabs.org.

About Dirigo Labs:

Dirigo Labs is a regional startup accelerator based in Waterville, Maine. With a mission to grow the greater Waterville area’s digital economy by supporting entrepreneurs building innovation-based companies, the Dirigo Labs ecosystem brings together people, resources, and organizations to ensure the successful launch of new startups. Dirigo Labs operates under Central Maine Growth Council and is supported by several organizations, academic institutions, and investment firms. To learn more about Dirigo Labs, please visit www.dirigolabs.org.

About Skowhegan Savings:

Skowhegan Savings Bank has been dedicated to strengthening Maine’s families, businesses, and communities by providing personalized and competitive banking services to the regions they serve for over 150 years. An independent mutual savings bank based in Skowhegan, our mission is to provide customers with exceptional service in an innovative banking environment that effectively and efficiently puts the financial needs of the customer first. Skowhegan Savings takes pride in not only being a great place to bank but also a great place to work. For more information about Skowhegan Savings, please visit Skowhegan.com or contact our Customer Service line at 800.303.9511.

Dirigo Labs Secures $25,000 Pitch Competition Prize from Skowhegan Savings Bank

Waterville, ME 6/7/2022 – Dirigo Labs has successfully secured its pitch competition prize for its inaugural cohort of 12 Maine-based startups. The accelerator program’s pitch competition, which will be held at Colby College on Tuesday, June 21 from 5-8, will evaluate each company’s pitch delivery, capital strategy, and impact on entrepreneurship in Maine. Dirigo Labs’ inaugural cohort, which began on March 23 and is housed in the Hathaway Creative Center in Waterville, caters to startups in a range of industries, including aquaculture, software, healthcare, and aerospace.  

“Skowhegan Savings has a long history of supporting local business startups, recognizing that innovation and entrepreneurship are the cornerstones of our economy,” said Steve Thomas, SVP Senior Commercial Lender at Skowhegan Savings Bank. ”The Dirigo Accelerator program is fostering this group of entrepreneurs, by providing the tools and mentorship, to be successful. Our charitable foundation couldn’t be more pleased to award the winner with a $25,000 cash prize to help them achieve that next level of growth necessary for their business to thrive.” 

The 12-week program guides startups through a targeted curriculum to execute their project plans, and each cohort company is able to work with a curated board of local and national advisors from a range of industries. Seminar topics included how to utilize public-private sector grants and economic incentives, customer acquisition strategies, capital planning, and intellectual property evaluation. 

“This inaugural cohort represents the very best of Maine’s startup landscape,” said Dirigo Labs’ Managing Director, Susan Ruhlin. “These passionate founders are building a stronger innovation-based economy in our state, and we can’t wait to share their progress with the community. The generous support of Skowhegan Savings Bank is a perfect example of their steadfast commitment to helping entrepreneurs turn vision into reality, and we are so grateful for the support.”  

To learn more about Dirigo Labs’ pitch competition and how you can attend in person, please visit https://tinyurl.com/2p82dhzm. For startups and potential mentors interested in learning more about Dirigo Labs, please visit www.dirigolabs.org.

About Dirigo Labs: Dirigo Labs is a regional startup accelerator based in Waterville, Maine. With a mission to grow the greater Waterville area’s digital economy by supporting entrepreneurs building innovation-based companies, the Dirigo Labs ecosystem brings together people, resources, and organizations to ensure the successful launch of new startups. Dirigo Labs operates under Central Maine Growth Council and is supported by several organizations, academic institutions, and investment firms. To learn more about Dirigo Labs, please visit www.dirigolabs.org

About Skowhegan Savings: Skowhegan Savings Bank has been dedicated to strengthening Maine’s families, businesses, and communities by providing personalized and competitive banking services to the regions they serve for 150 years. An independent mutual savings bank based in Skowhegan, our mission is to provide customers with exceptional service in an innovative banking environment that effectively and efficiently puts the financial needs of the customer first. Skowhegan Savings takes pride in not only being a great place to bank but also a great place to work. For more information about Skowhegan Savings, please visit Skowhegan.com or contact our Customer Service line at 800.303.9511.

Maine Venture Fund partners with Central Maine Growth Council and Dirigo Labs to support Central Maine entrepreneurs

Waterville, ME 5/31/2022 – Maine Venture Fund is proud to announce a new partnership with Dirigo Labs, a startup accelerator launched by the Central Maine Growth Council, to increase capital investment into companies located in central Maine. Dirigo Labs will provide MVF with “boots on the ground” in the region and develop a channel through which companies can learn about the equity financing options available from MVF. In turn, MVF will participate in Dirigo Labs accelerator programming and work directly with companies to help them understand the fundraising process and identify sources of capital in Maine and beyond, including but not limited to Maine Venture Fund itself. 

Dr. Brien Walton, MVF Board Chair, stated, “Partnering with Dirigo Labs follows the MVF Board’s strategic priority of expanding impact across Maine. As a lean team, MVF can be more efficient by working to support existing regional partners rather than recreating those resources. The relationship with Dirigo Labs and the Central Maine Growth Council is a perfect example of this type of partnership, to better connect the state’s resources with dynamic leaders on the front lines of growing central Maine’s economy.”

Susan Ruhlin of Dirigo Labs agreed. “As Maine’s venture capital fund, it made sense to ally with Maine Venture Fund to ensure that participating Dirigo Labs startups have direct access to state funding that seeks to support high growth companies. Maine Venture Fund’s demonstrated success in the state over the past 25 years bolsters the potential for new economic development organizations like Dirigo Labs to gain a foothold and thrive over the next 25 years in better serving the central Maine region.”

MVF is already engaging with several of the companies enrolled in the Dirigo Labs inaugural accelerator class in a range of activities from general fundraising education to capital investment evaluation. MVF expects to leverage the newly announced MVF Microfund program to offer a wider range of equity funding options to the companies at Dirigo Labs and in the wider central Maine region. 

About Dirigo Labs:

Dirigo Labs is a regional startup accelerator based in Waterville, Maine. With a mission to grow the greater Waterville area’s digital economy by supporting entrepreneurs building innovation-based companies, the Dirigo Labs ecosystem brings together people, resources, and organizations to ensure the successful launch of new startups. Dirigo Labs operates under Central Maine Growth Council and is supported by several organizations, academic institutions, and investment firms. To learn more about Dirigo Labs, please visit www.dirigolabs.org.

About Maine Venture Fund:

Maine Venture Fund invests in dynamic businesses that have the potential for significant growth and impact in Maine. The Fund has invested over $25 million in Maine companies since 1997, after its creation by an act of the Maine Legislature as a revolving “evergreen” state-sponsored fund. For more information, visit maineventurefund.com.

Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation Awards Funding to Dirigo Labs to Support Business Accelerator, Innovation Ecosystem

Waterville, ME, 5/11/2022 – Bill and Joan Alfond announced a grant from their foundation today to the Central Maine Community Betterment Collaborative for the Dirigo Labs business accelerator program. This grant will bolster Dirigo Labs’ physical infrastructure and ecosystem building in the greater Waterville area while highlighting the region’s technology and innovation sectors.

“Joan and I are pleased to support entrepreneurial innovation and the development of quality jobs in the greater Waterville area,” said Bill Alfond.

“This generous gift will help distinguish Dirigo Labs as a resource for founders from diverse backgrounds and industries looking to scale their businesses in an impactful manner,” said Managing Director Susan Ruhlin. “This funding will allow us to build upon our existing groundwork as we launch our inaugural cohort and build greater Waterville’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Housed in Bricks Coworking and Innovation Space, located in the historic Hathaway Creative Center at 10 Water Street in Waterville, Dirigo Labs serves as a conduit for startups seeking access to mentorship, deal flow, venture capital, and strategic partnerships.

“Combining the momentum of building-out a greater Waterville area based innovation hub with the continued growth and revitalization of downtown Waterville, this grant will support entrepreneurs and startups that aim to launch and expand their respective businesses through innovative programming, access to diverse sources of capital, mentorship structures, and dedicated workspace in the downtown district,” states Central Maine Growth Council Director of Planning, Innovation, and Economic Development Garvan Donegan.

Launched on March 23, Dirigo Labs is currently hosting 12 Maine-based startups from various industries, ranging from the manufacturing of floating picnic tables, the development of food products, and software services. The 12-week program pairs companies with a curated temporary board of advisors. Participants have access to a robust network of local, regional, and national mentors and pro bono services. The program engages startups and founders through workshops covering a range of relevant subject matters, including product development strategies, marketing and branding, revenue modeling, and customer relationship management. After completing the curriculum, companies will participate in a public pitch event.

For startups and potential mentors interested in learning more about Dirigo Labs, please visit www.dirigolabs.org.

About Dirigo Labs:

Dirigo Labs is a regional startup accelerator based in Waterville, Maine. With a mission to grow the greater Waterville area’s digital economy by supporting entrepreneurs building innovation-based companies, the Dirigo Labs ecosystem brings together people, resources, and organizations to ensure the successful launch of new startups. Dirigo Labs operates under Central Maine Growth Council and is supported by several organizations, academic institutions, and investment firms. To learn more about Dirigo Labs, please visit www.dirigolabs.org.

Dirigo Labs Hires Jake Conterato as Projects and Innovation Network Coordinator

New Position to Highlight Partnership between Colby College and the Dirigo Labs Accelerator

Waterville, ME, 4/27/2022 – Dirigo Labs is pleased to announce the appointment of Jake Conterato as the Projects and Innovation Network Coordinator. A startup accelerator in Waterville, Dirigo Labs is committed to regional innovation and entrepreneurial growth. Jake will be building a network of advisors, investors, entrepreneurs, and businesses that align with Dirigo Labs’ vision for the region. As the primary communications coordinator, Jake will be focused on engaging the local community and cohort members to achieve this goal, as well as developing efficient operational strategies for Dirigo Labs. 

“Jake’s passion for entrepreneurship is evident in the help he provides to startup founders and the fresh ideas he brings to the Dirigo team,” said Susan Ruhlin, Dirigo Labs’ managing director. “He’s the perfect liaison between the Colby College community and the accelerator and is a wonderful addition to our staff.” 

Prior to joining Dirigo Labs, Jake was the project coordinator at Tortoise Labs, an incubator based in central Maine where entrepreneurs go from idea to working prototype. At Tortoise Labs, Jake helped clients in the development stages of their start-ups by connecting them with appropriate resources and building strategies for customer acquisition and retention. 

“We worked closely with our clients to help bring their ideas to fruition,” said Jake. “I am incredibly excited to continue working side-by-side with entrepreneurs who are passionate about their start-ups and helping them build something of their own here in Maine.” 

The position is funded through Colby College, Jake’s alma mater. “As someone who graduated amidst the pandemic, I feel grateful for the opportunity to be working with Colby College again,” continues Jake. At Dirigo Labs, Jake will be a liaison to Colby College, working closely with both Colby and Dirigo Labs in order to further the organizations’ shared vision and commitment to growth within central Maine.

The cohort of innovation-based start-ups will participate in targeted mentoring sessions and a curriculum focused on entrepreneurship. They will also have the opportunity to leverage the expertise from the accelerator’s partner institutions, student interns, and the region’s general business community to grow their businesses. For more information about Dirigo Labs, please visit www.dirigolabs.org

About Dirigo Labs: Dirigo Labs is a regional startup accelerator based in Waterville, Maine. With a mission to grow mid-Maine’s digital economy by supporting entrepreneurs who are building innovation-based companies, the Dirigo Labs ecosystem brings together people, resources, and organizations to ensure the successful launch of new startups. Dirigo Labs operates under Central Maine Growth Council and is supported by several organizations, academic institutions, and investment firms. For more information, please visit www.dirigolabs.org

Dirigo Labs Launches Inaugural Cohort, Spotlighting Emerging Technologies, Manufacturing, and Sustainable Aerospace

Waterville, ME, 3/15/2022 –

Dirigo Labs has selected the 12 startup teams to participate in its inaugural accelerator class. Launching next week at Bricks Coworking and Innovation Space at the Hathaway Creative Center in downtown Waterville, the cohort will run through mid-June, culminating with a pitch event. 

Startup teams were selected based on the stage of development, founder experience, and potential to scale. Dirigo Labs strategically matches the startups with a temporary board of advisors from its diverse local and national mentor networks. Founders will also attend weekly seminars while engaging in customized curriculum to execute their project plans. Seminar topics will engage a wide range of subjects, including how to utilize public-private sector grants and economic incentives, customer acquisition strategies, capital planning, and intellectual property evaluation.

“Dirigo Labs exists because this community and region of our state want to embrace entrepreneurship,” said Susan Ruhlin, Dirigo Labs’ Managing Director. “From software to biotech to aerospace and legacy manufacturing, this unique cohort of incredible companies demonstrates the breadth of what’s possible to launch in Maine.”

The central Maine region is emerging as Maine’s newest startup ecosystem. With world-class academic institutions and a geographic location within 60-minutes of the state’s largest cities, Dirigo Labs is the primary entrepreneurship service provider between Bangor/Orono, the home of the University of Maine, and greater Portland, Maine’s hub of economic and startup activity. 

“Waterville’s robust entrepreneurial ecosystem can be attributed to the area’s secondary and post-secondary educational institutions, a growing tech and innovation hub, and a wealth of business development resources to support expansion and retention from ideation to inception,” states Garvan Donegan, Director of Planning, Innovation and Economic Development at Central Maine Growth Council. “Dirigo Labs is actively supporting high-growth potential startups which maximize value creation and develop innovative solutions to advance the region’s long-term economic development potential.”

The Dirigo Labs hybrid operating model accommodates both remote and in-person participation. Teams who need a base of operations will have designated workspace and full access to the Bricks Coworking and Innovation Space facilities. Workshop sessions will be conducted both in-person and remotely. 

“This group of entrepreneurs truly embodies the spirit of Maine with their hardworking, genuine, and thoughtful approaches to running their ventures,” said Emalee Couture, Growth Manager at Dirigo Labs. ”They’re hiring exceptional Mainers, attracting top-notch talent, investing back into their communities, contributing to Maine’s economic growth, and serving as inspiration for innovators and entrepreneurs across the state.” 

Below are the Dirigo Labs 2022 Cohort Companies:

Alfred, ME

An online community think tank open to anyone, built upon fun idea challenge tournaments, for creative, imaginative people to help solve problems big and small, and get better at innovating. Earn prize money and funding and start new projects together.

Brunswick, ME

Aerospace company reducing the environmental impacts of the space industry with their proprietary bio-fueled hybrid rockets and democratizing access to space with dedicated and frequent suborbital and orbital launches for small satellites.

Waterville, ME

Proprietary genetic testing and colony planning expertise providing clear guidance for the breeding, management and selection of laboratory animals used in academic and biomedical research.

Canaan, ME

Artisan pizza dough manufacturing using 100% freshly milled grains from Maine with a commitment to providing workforce development training to Mainers with unique needs.

Waterville, ME

Medical device company developing a product for ostomy bag patients using sensor technology to signal capacity limits.

Winthrop, ME

Patent-pending motorized and steerable floating picnic tables found across lakes and ponds in Maine and New England.

Brunswick, ME

Value add manufacturer of the Ocean Harvest Bag®, a bag woven from biodegradable, compostable fiber designed explicitly for the harvest and distribution of shellfish and produce.  

Rockland, ME

Luxury, cannabis confections for women by women, made with vegan, gluten-free, and ethically sourced ingredients from the U.S.

Waterville, ME

Software as a service (SaaS) platform using AI to synthesize public technical data into an organized and searchable interface to help users find potential mineral assets, analyze technical reports, and make informed decisions.

Dresden, ME

SaaS platform with patented solutions for businesses to transform static web images into unique, interactive pathways to multimedia stories, social sharing, and convenient purchasing options to increase engagement rates and revenue while personalizing experiences, ultimately building brand loyalty.

Milford, ME

SaaS platform improves tenant screening while building renter’s credit scores to help landlords and tenants work together to create closer communities.

Providence, RI & Waterville, ME

SaaS platform provides an immersive career platform that helps diverse youth find a career through rich, personal stories and helps companies drive racial and ethnic diversity in their talent pipelines.

About Dirigo Labs:

Dirigo Labs is a regional startup accelerator based in Waterville, Maine. With a mission to grow mid-Maine’s digital economy by supporting entrepreneurs building innovation-based companies, the Dirigo Labs ecosystem brings together people, resources, and organizations to ensure the successful launch of new startups. Dirigo Labs operates under Central Maine Growth Council and is supported by several organizations, academic institutions, and investment firms.

Dirigo Labs Announces Selection as AWS Activate Provider

Waterville, ME, 2/24/2022 – Dirigo Labs, Maine’s newest accelerator program, has been designated as an Amazon Web Services (AWS) Activate Provider, allowing Dirigo Labs-based startups and entrepreneurs to access exclusive benefits to help accelerate growth as they build their respective businesses. The accelerator, launching its first cohort in March, will host approximately 10 Maine-based startups representing a range of industries including biotechnology and information technology.

Startups affiliated with Dirigo Labs who are building or about to start building web-based programs on AWS may apply for the AWS Activate Portfolio and receive free AWS credits, technical support, training, resources, and more. Inclusion in the Activate program differentiates the Dirigo Labs accelerator as an important solution to the maturation of startups building and scaling their companies on AWS. 

“Being designated as an AWS Activate Provider will allow Dirigo Labs participating founders access to an exclusive toolset to help them succeed at every stage of their development,” states Dirigo Labs Managing Director Susan Ruhlin. “We welcome all cohort members to take full advantage of these incredible benefits.”

Dirigo Labs will offer a 12-week curriculum for seed-stage entrepreneurs scaling their startups. Topics will include product development, fundraising strategies, revenue modeling, and pitch refinement. Utilizing regional assets to encourage job creation and retention while improving access to capital for startups, Dirigo Labs is building an innovation ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship and showcases central Maine as a destination for business development and success. 

“Joining an impressive portfolio of AWS Activate Program companies, including Coinbase and Toast, Dirigo Labs will provide opportunities and services to startups in our accelerator that they wouldn’t have had access to before, such as AWS Cloud credits, AWS business support, and access to the Activate console to help their business prosper,” elaborates Central Maine Growth Council Development Coordinator Sabrina Jandreau. “We look forward to working with our startups to utilize these opportunities while supporting rural business development for years to come.”

Startups and potential mentors interested in learning more about Dirigo Labs and submitting an application can visit www.dirigolabs.org.

About Dirigo Labs:

Dirigo Labs is a regional startup accelerator based in Waterville, Maine. With a mission to grow mid-Maine’s digital economy by supporting entrepreneurs who are building innovation-based companies, the Dirigo Labs ecosystem brings together people, resources, and organizations to ensure the successful launch of new startups. Dirigo Labs operates under Central Maine Growth Council and is supported by several organizations, academic institutions, and investment firms.

Dirigo Labs, Maine’s Newest Accelerator Program, Opens Inaugural Cohort and Mentor Applications to Support Maine-Based Entrepreneurs

Waterville, ME, 2/2/2022 – Dirigo Labs is soliciting applications from mentors and startups alike to join its inaugural cohort. With a forward-focused mission of fostering an entrepreneurial and innovation hub, Dirigo Labs will utilize regional assets to encourage job creation and business expansion and retention within central Maine and the Kennebec Valley region. 

The 12-week accelerator program will engage entrepreneurs with a curated curriculum of startup tools, access to a diverse local and national mentor network, and funding opportunities to rapidly grow and scale operations. Particularly unique, and illustrating the Dirigo Labs’ public-private sector lens, the accelerator program will also showcase avenues on attracting sponsored research, public-private sectors grants, and economic incentives while providing valuable business development opportunities for years to come. Waterville is nestled in an asset-rich community with strong academic institutions and is fortified by an abundance of support from area professionals and educators. 

“An innovation hub is built with the buy-in of everyone in the community. Our early mentor and startup applicants indicate that we’re going to have an amazing inaugural cohort,” said Emalee Couture, Growth Manager of Dirigo Labs. “We’re excited to fill the remaining cohort spots with equally impressive startups and we’d welcome community members’ involvement as mentors, speakers, coworking members, supporters, and participants in our events.”  

The accelerator’s framework will provide guidance on a wide range of initiatives, catering to a high demand for advanced startups and increase the quantity of skilled labor in order to maximize product launch capability. Leveraging a local, statewide, and national mentor pool, Dirigo Labs startups will have access to a curated temporary board of advisors according to the needs of each company. Located in the historic Hathaway Creative Center and Bricks Coworking and Innovation Space, the accelerator will assist in transitioning cohorts of eligible applicants into matured industries, such as biotechnology, information technology, and health care. 

“The accelerator presents a tremendous opportunity to showcase the central Maine region and the significant resources available to startup companies,” Susan Ruhlin, Dirigo Labs Managing Director, said. “When you bring together entrepreneurs, mentors, subject matter experts, and the investment community, the byproduct is the spark that builds a critical mass of new companies.”

The inaugural cohort will convene its first sessions in March. Startups and potential mentors who are interested in learning more about Dirigo Labs and submitting an application can visit www.dirigolabs.org

About Dirigo Labs:

Dirigo Labs, a regional startup accelerator, will galvanize mid-Maine’s unique diversity of academic institutions and tech firms to harness the entrepreneurship and digital skills of our students, graduates, academic faculty, and business owners to power a thriving rural economy. Dirigo Labs operates under Central Maine Growth Council, and is pleased to partner with several resource partners, venture funding groups, and academic institutions, not limited to Center on Rural Innovation, Bricks Coworking and Innovation Space, Colby College, Thomas College, Kennebec Valley Community College, Maine Venture Fund, and the Maine Angels.

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