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

September 15th, 2022
(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 or email

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

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