Central Maine Growth Council

Dirigo Labs: Fostering Innovation and Collaboratively Supporting Maine-based Entrepreneurs

Waterville, ME

Venture Challenge

Federal Share: $599,969
Local Match: $602,910

Rural mid-Maine is emerging from a 20% population decline and loss of over 1,000 jobs stemming from the demise of the manufacturing industry over the past two decades. Now, tech firms are leading the comeback with over 100 new jobs and nearly 6% population growth in eight years. As mid-Maine is poised to overcome the twin challenges of adapting to the 21st century global economy and the Great Recession of 2007-2009, it looks toward future success in reversing the loss of mills – a historic source of taxes, gross domestic product, and jobs – by cultivating a digital ecosystem to accelerate tech-based industry.

As a public-private economic development partnership fostering a robust mid-Maine economy, CMGC will organize the tech industry’s ability to transition the post-manufacturing economy through the Dirigo Labs (DL) initiative. DL 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.

Utilizing local assets including the world-class Colby College and Bricks Coworking & Innovation Space, a hub for entrepreneurs and tech workers, DL will:

  • Build a startup accelerator with cohort members generating $15M in sales
  • Cultivate a 30-mentor network that produces over 400 mentoring sessions
  • Facilitate access to investment capital and deal flow that raises $10M
  • Marshal academic assets to develop a tech talent pipeline that fills 50 new jobs