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A bureau within the U.S. Department of Commerce
Funding Opportunities Background

Office of Innovation and
Entrepreneurship (OIE)

Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development


Portland, Maine

Project Name

Top Gun Rural Accelerator Network Expansion



Award Amount

$390,000 for Top Gun Rural Accelerator Network Expansion

MCED’s Top Gun Rural Accelerator Network Expansion (Top Gun RANE) project will provide increased support for innovation-based, scalable businesses in Maine. Not industry specific and not an investment platform, the Top Gun entrepreneurship programs accelerate companies through training, mentorship and connections, and overcome the unique challenge of how to model a business accelerator for a rural state.

The overall strategy is to build upon the successes of Top Gun (started 2009), increasing the number of program graduates, and raising the level of entrepreneurs’ savvy for growing their business and landing outside investments. Expanding the program to a fourth location, growing and improving the support system for the Maine Mentor Network, piloting an introductory training called PreFlight, and developing new programming for post Top Gun companies are among the key activities of the project. Along with ongoing support for the existing locations, Top Gun RANE will also increase outreach and guidance for new companies entering the pipeline, and provide connections and training for scaling companies to access grant funding as well as equity investment.

Working with partners UMaine, Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council, Maine Venture Fund, Maine Angels, University of Southern Maine’s Ci2 Lab, Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center and Maine Department of Economic & Community Development, Top Gun RANE will have significant impact on communities throughout the state. Because the success of Top Gun depends on amassing high ambition companies across broad geographies, industries and stages of development, a wide range of entrepreneurs and stakeholders statewide see benefits from this program including business starts, job creation, capital formation through equity financing, and a vibrant and growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. Top Gun is one of the signature programs of the Maine Accelerates Growth initiative that has grown from three to 11 partners and represents a highly innovative model for achieving collaboration and sustainability in a dispersed entrepreneurial ecosystem.