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July 12, 2017

MTI awards $695K, leveraging nearly $1M for recipients

The Maine Technology Institute approved 31 awards totaling almost $695,000 from across its suite of funding programs, leveraging an additional $960,815 in matching funds from the organizations.

The investments will support innovative projects in nearly half of Maine's 16 counties and in six of the state's seven targeted technology sectors.

Awards from this round include one development loan totaling $203,062, 19 seed grants totaling $419,348, six TechStart grants totaling $27,367, one accelerator grant totaling $25,000 and four Phase 0 grants totaling $20,000.

"These investments will help cost-share private sector innovation efforts in Maine," MTI President Brian Whitney said in a news release. "From basic business planning, prototype development and proof of concept work, to providing assistance in attracting federal R&D funding, to helping to commercialize and scale new products, these beneficial investments will help propel these innovations and companies forward to allow them to grow and sustain jobs in our state."

Development Loan Award

Field Phyto-Nutrients LLC in Brunswick received $203,062, which was matched by $222,074. The funding will help the company confirm the feasibility of a planned commercial scale plant to grow micro algae that can be used to make an omega-3 fatty acid under the brand PhytoCortX Liquid that's used as a nutritional supplement.

Seed grant awards

Nineteen companies received MTI seed grant funding totaling $419,348.

Caron Engineering Inc. in Wells, $24,980 that was matched by an equal amount. The company is developing a power sensor with greater sensitivity with the goal of staying ahead of its competition in the global precision manufacturing market.

Schmitz Studios LLC in Portland, $25,000 that was matched by an equal amount. The company will use the funding to develop and test a prototype of a tech-based garment design tool.

Blue Barn LLC (doing business as Bluet) in Jefferson, $25,000 that was matched by $25,064. Bluet is a world-class sparkling wine made from 100% Maine wild blueberries, debuting in 2015 with a champagne-method, traditionally-packaged sparkler. Under development is a new product: a charmat-method, screw cap-enclosed blueberry sparkler created to be high-volume, value-priced and unique in its category, with national sales potential.

SpinDoc Inc. in Augusta, $25,000 that was matched by $26,790. SpinDoc is a business-to-business software as service provider serving physician practices and health care organizations across the country that's developing a product for "acceptance testing leading to commercialization."

Benjamin Dwyer in Scarborough, $25,000 that was matched by $29,100. Funding will support the research and development of enhanced composite aircraft floats. The proposed technology will increase performance of composite aircraft floats, allowing the aircraft to become airborne in decreased takeoff distance, increasing usability of the aircraft, reducing accident risk due to misjudgment of take-off distance, and decreasing fuel consumption and engine wear.

Occupational Medical Consulting LLC in Leeds, $11,395 that will be matched by $11,395. The company provides health and wellness programs to companies of all sizes.

Maine Shellfish Developers LLC in Brunswick, $25,000 that will be matched by $50,300. The company is creating a winter oyster nursery, allowing oyster farmers to jumpstart the growing season and potentially reducing the current growth cycle by half. Funding will be used to develop an inexpensive, alternative oyster feed that emulates oysters' natural diet.

Aron Semle in Buxton, $4,800 that will be matched by $9,150. Semle has developed a prototype of a wearable sensor that detects when a patient with Alzheimer's is getting out of bed and alerts the caregiver via their smartphone to help prevent patient falls. A prototype is currently in trial at resident homes in Maine. Semle is using the seed grant to help take his product from prototype to production.

Atlantic Cookie Company LLC in Scarborough, $16,665 that will be matched by $16,750. The grant will fund manufacturing improvements and upgrades that will allow the company to begin producing its signature product, the Shuckie, a shell-shaped cookie, for commercialization to seafood restaurants and coastal hotel and hospitality venues.

The Montalvo Corp. in Gorham, $25,000 that will be matched by $25,634. The company is developing a device for composite manufacturing applications.

American Rheinmetall Systems LLC in Biddeford, $25,000 that will be matched by $31,200. The company plans to use the funding to develop a mechanical weapon mount adapter that would allow new or modified weapons to be mounted to existing weapon mounts in the U.S. Department of Defense inventory.

SteriZign Precision Technologies LLC in Brunswick, $25,000 that will be matched by $27,000. The company designs and manufactures perforated sterilization trays for complex reusable medical devices. Seed grant funding will help the company complete its tray development, validation testing and FDA registration.

Fiber Materials Inc. in Biddeford, $25,000 that will be matched by $36,940. The company engineers composite material solutions for high temperature applications, from rocket nozzles to heat shields for the Mars rover Curiosity. Funding will help R&D efforts exploring cost-effective ceramic matrix composites, opening the door for more industrial and commercial applications.

Nearpeer Networks Inc. in Portland, $25,000 that will be matched by $39,363. Funding will be used to develop a college student mobile app "empowering students to learn about, connect, and communicate with peers to crowdsource social and academic support." A separate seed grant award of $25,000, to be matched by $33,450, will fund beta tests at three university campuses of its technology.

Open Ocean Oysters in South Portland, $25,000 that will be matched by $128,822. The company will use the funding to test its oyster-growing system utilizing state-of-the-art material handling methods to drastically reduce labor costs and size requirements of oyster-growing leases. The expected outcome in this project is the ability to accelerate growth and vastly reduce labor needs in the nursery and grow-out phases of oyster farming.

Anchorpak LLC in Portland, $11,508 that will be matched by the same amount. The seed grant will fund product development, consumer field trials and a design patent to position the company as an alternative to the market's current status-quo, tolerated-but-not loved, utility bags.

Eagre Games Inc. in Orono, $25,000 that will be matched by $70,000. MTI funding will help the company develop its product and get it to market.

Rainstorm Inc. in Orono, $25,000 that will be matched by $30,075.The company will use the funding from this seed grant to improve its website platform used by K-12 school systems nationwide.

TechStart grants

Six companies received MTI TechStart funding totaling $27,367.

Benjamin Dwyer in Scarborough, $4,000 that will be matched by $5,000. Funding will be used to complete a market assessment and feasibility study of enhanced composite aircraft floats.

Veebie Inc. in Portland, $5,000 that will be matched by $5,445. The company is developing mobile self-service food kiosks, or "foodbots," and plans to conduct market discovery and research that will enable it to create a business plan and design a functional prototype.

Visible Logic Inc. in Portland, $5,000 that will be matched by $7,190. Funding will help the company conduct market research for its web-based branding application for business owners.

Energy Medicine and Psychology Systems LLC in Portland, $4,400 that will be matched by $5,700. Funding will help the company secure intellectual property protection and to develop a small micro-current device(s) and supportive information technology for use in psychotherapy and acupuncture.

University of Maine in Orono, $4,500 that will be matched by $6,450. The salmon louse is a common parasite affecting the Atlantic salmon farming industry that causes global economic losses in excess of $750 million per annum. Funding will be used to evaluate an alternative to current industry practices.

Farmer Brown Organics LLC in Presque Isle, $4,467 that will be matched by $5,935. Funding will help the company prepare and file a provisional patent application with the U.S. Patent Office for its proprietary process for drying sugar beets while retaining maximum nutritional benefits for cattle, particularly dairy cattle.

Accelerator grant

One company received MTI accelerator funding: UniteGPS LLC in Portland, $25,000 that will be matched by an equal amount. The technology company will use the funding to develop a product that provides real-time school bus location information to parents and students via the web or a mobile device.

Phase 0 grants

Four companies received MTI funding totaling $20,000: MedRhythms Inc. in Portland, VisionMaster Inc. in Portland, Home Care Business Services in Falmouth, Atlantic Corp. in Waterville.

Each company received $5,000 that was matched by an equal amount, with the exception of Home Care Business Services, whose grant was matched by $10,500.

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