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December 17, 2018

MTI seeks innovative forest resource technology proposals

The Maine Technology Institute is looking for innovative proposals for deploying forest technology in the state, with $1.5 million in grants available to winners.

The Emerging Technology Challenge for Maine's Forest Resources not only is aimed at uncovering emerging technologies in the industry, but also serving as a pilot program "to inform innovation challenges in other sectors in the future and to benefit Maine's overall economic development," MTI said in a news release.

Those applying to the challenge should have a goal of deploying a forest industry technology in Maine, preferably located at an existing industrial plant, where forest biomass is used in the production of a value-added product for sale into a well-defined, promising market, the release said.

The $1.5 million will be awarded for either one project, or to be divided among two or more. MTI has contracted with Biobased Maine to help collect information on forest industry technologies and managing the challenge process.

MTI issued a request for information in July, and those enterprises that responded are eligible to apply for the challenge, Martha Bentley, director of innovative infrastructure at MTI told Mainebiz this morning.

Brian Whitney, MTI's president, said in the news release that MTI supports Maine's forest industry, including efforts to diversify it. "MTI recognizes the growth of industrial biotechnology around the globe and wants to ensure that Maine is part of this growth."

The state's forest industry contributes an estimated $8.5 billion annually to the state's economy, with the potential to grow to $12 billion by 2025, MTI said. The industry remains strong because its stakeholders have collaborated :to chart a course for the future of the industry," the release said. "It is poised to embrace new opportunities, and there have been recent success stories."

In the past few years, approximately $1.02 billion has been invested in Maine's forest industry, including pulp and paper equipment, wood processing equipment, energy production and new facility construction, according to the release.

"With a wave of recent investments and a new vision for growth through 2025, the future of Maine's forest industry is bright," said Charlotte Mace, executive director of Biobased Maine. "New forest technologies will help to diversify and sustain the industry into its second golden age and revitalize rural Maine communities with the creation of high-paying jobs."

Responders to the challenge should describe their strong business case, feedstock fit with Maine, the technical and technoeconomic merit of their technology, economic benefits to Maine and geographic fit.

Submissions are due by Friday, Jan. 25, and should be submitted to Biobased Maine via email at info@biobasedmaine.org.

Questions about this RFP should also be directed to Biobased Maine at info@biobasedmaine.org.

Detailed submission guidelines are available at www.biobasedmaine.org/blog. Details on the challenge can also be found on MTI's website at www.mainetechnology.org.

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