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March 8, 2011 | last updated December 1, 2011 11:55 am
Portlandbiz

MTI grant to help manufacturing R&D

The Maine Technology Institute has given the University of Southern Maine and University of Maine a $493,577 grant to boost their partnerships with private-sector manufacturers.

The three-year grant was issued to help manufacturing companies develop new products and to create more science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs in Maine, according to a press release from MTI. The money comes from the MTI's cluster initiative program to support Maine's technology sector.

University of Maine's Advanced Manufacturing Center and University of Southern Maine's Manufacturing Applications Center matched the grant with $567,000 "to help businesses overcome the technological barriers preventing them from bringing to market hundreds of new products and manufacturing processes," a press release states. The centers received contributions from business partners, including Thos. Moser Cabinetmakers in Freeport, Hydro International in Portland and Sappi Paper in Westbrook, according to John Belding, director of UMaine's center.

Belding says that both universities are seeing a greater demand for R&D and commercialization services from Maine's precision manufacturing companies, more than what the academic facilities currently can handle. Just in the past year, the facilities worked with more than 50 companies in Maine, he says.

The funds will be used over the next three years by USM and UMaine to hire three full-time employees, including two project managers, and to buy equipment at the Orono and Gorham campuses. Students will also be involved in the work, helping prepare them for technological and industrial jobs.

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