Dirigo Labs Hires Susan Ruhlin as Accelerator Managing Director

August 19th, 2021

Waterville, ME 8/19/21 – Central Maine Growth Council (CMGC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Susan Ruhlin as the Accelerator Managing Director for Dirigo Labs. The accelerator, launching early 2022, will be a catalyst in establishing a vibrant startup hub in the central Maine region. Ruhlin will be responsible for the day-to-day logistics and operations of Dirigo Labs and will work directly with entrepreneurs, businesses, and local students to provide education of the Dirigo Labs’ suite of services, including preliminary startup consultation, talent retention and recruitment, and manage performance metrics during the project period.

“The central Maine region is Maine’s best-kept secret for launching new ventures,” Ruhlin said. “The commitment and support from the community is palpable, and I’m excited to be part of building an entrepreneurial ecosystem that’s only going to keep growing.”

As the Vice-President of Operations for Introspective Systems, a Portland Maine technology startup and Top Gun graduate company that develops software for microgrid controllers and energy storage systems, Ruhlin was instrumental in shaping business strategy, fundraising, and general operational oversight for the software startup. Ruhlin spent eight years working as the Program Manager for Top Gun, Maine’s first startup accelerator at the Maine Center for Entrepreneurs. Under Ruhlin’s management, Top Gun has expanded to five locations across the state and has served more than 150 companies. Notable startups include VETRO Fiber Map, Coursestorm, Pika Energy, Bixby, R.E.D.D., and many more. 

“As our new managing director of CMGC’s Dirigo Labs, Susan will work closely with executive leadership, academia, statewide partners, and state and regional startups to elevate Dirigo Labs’ operations and impact. Susan’s deep experience in Maine’s entrepreneurial landscape will be of significant importance to the regional economy, Waterville’s downtown district, and our growing innovation infrastructure. Her passion for community and startups made Susan an ideal candidate to help lead our efforts across technology sectors and legacy industries,” said Garvan Donegan, principal investigator of Dirigo Labs and director of planning, innovation, and economic development for Central Maine Growth Council. “As the Managing Director, Susan will play a pivotal role for startups as they access our services, explore funding opportunities, and discover what the region and downtown has to offer. It is also wonderful to see the new employment opportunities being created because of Dirigo Labs — not just the projected jobs created through future startups participating in the accelerator, but jobs that the program itself is creating. With this accelerator program, and one of our many new career opportunities, this is the beginning of significant local economic impact as a result of CMGC platforms supporting entrepreneurs and Maine-based startups.” 

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. Applications for the Accelerator will open in late fall of 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 http://www.centralmaine.org/region/dirigo-labs/

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.

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