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February 16, 2012 | last updated February 17, 2012 11:04 am

New incubator program hopes to create jobs

A trio of small-business incubators has formed a new organization to help startups grow. The Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, the University of Maine's Target Technology Center and the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center have formed the Maine Business Incubation System, funded in part by the Blackstone Charitable foundation.

MeBIS will provide networking and support opportunities to help them create jobs and remain sustainable, according to a press release. Using the Three Ring Binder broadband network now under construction, MeBIS will create a cloud technology network to existing incubation and entrepreneurial support systems, allowing entrepreneurs to connect across the state. Services for entrepreneurs will include coaching, mentoring, lunch and learns, peer-to-peer networking and an online curriculum. "Maine does a good job of starting companies, but very, very few break through to over 10 employees," said Don Gooding, executive director of MCED. He said the goal is to increase the number of entrepreneurs served from 40 to 240 by 2014.

The initiative is funded in part by the Maine Technology Institute and Blackstone, which last fall announced the Blackstone Accelerates Growth initiative with a $3 million grant to help spur innovation in Maine. The initial MTI funding covers an 18-month pilot, which could grow to include other universities, research organizations, real estate developments and economic development entities.

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