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February 20, 2019

David Shaw creates new prize for this year's Top Gun entrepreneur competition

Courtesy / Maine Center for Entrepreneurs
Courtesy / Maine Center for Entrepreneurs
David E. Shaw, managing partner of Black Point Group and co-founder of the publicly traded Maine companies Covetrus and IDEXX, will add an additional $25,000 prize to a winning entrepreneur in this year's Maine Center for Entrepreneurs' annual “Top Gun” Showcase event on May 23.

About Maine Center for Entrepreneurs

Founded in 1997, MCE is an independent nonprofit organization based in Portland that helps the most promising Maine companies launch and grow through training, connections, and "hands-on" support from dozens of volunteer advisors and business mentors.

About Black Point Group

Black Point Group is a private investment partnership focused on long-term value creation via active involvement in public and private growth companies. The partnership seeks to leverage its operational and investment expertise in life science, technology and other domains, including significant involvement in public service.

David E. Shaw, managing partner of Black Point Group and co-founder of the publicly traded Maine companies Covetrus and IDEXX, will add an additional $25,000 prize to a winning entrepreneur in this year's Maine Center for Entrepreneurs' annual "Top Gun" Showcase event.

Shaw said the new award was established to coincide with the recent public offering for Covetrus, formed from a merger between Portland startup Vets First Choice and Henry Schein Animal Health — uniting two companies that had a combined $4 billion in 2018 revenues — as well as the 35th anniversary of the founding of his first business, IDEXX Laboratories Inc. (2018 revenue: $2.21 million). He currently serves as chairman of Covetrus, was former chairman and CEO of IDEXX and the founding CEO and chairman of Ikaria, a critical care pharmaceutical company.

Beyond those accomplishments, he has played leadership roles in building numerous other business and public service ventures, including Second Century Stewardship at Acadia National Park and The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, where he served as board chair in the transformation of this world-renowned genetics institute.

"Entrepreneurial businesses are the engine of our economy — driving growth, innovation, and opportunity locally and across the world," he said. "I am pleased to join MCE in supporting the next generation of great Maine-based companies. I am grateful for the wonderfully fulfilling life that business and social entrepreneurship have created for me and the teams I have worked with around the world."

Tom Rainey, executive director of Maine Center for Entrepreneurs, told Mainebiz today that Shaw's gift enables MCE to offer two $25,000 prizes to two winners at its annual Top Gun Showcase event, which will be hosted by Maine Center Ventures at the University of Southern Maine on May 23.

"As it stands, this is a very generous one-time commitment on the part of David Shaw, which we hope will continue into the future," he said.

"Having David Shaw, Maine's most prominent, successful and worldly entrepreneur enthusiastically supporting our startup clients is an invaluable asset," Rainey said. "In addition to the generous prize, the winner will also receive some one-on-one mentoring from David Shaw. It is a real morale booster for entrepreneurs and Maine to know there is a network of support here with individuals of this caliber willing to help"

47 startups in 2019 Top Gun

Top Gun is an annual program for competitively selected Maine entrepreneurs that combines mentoring with high-impact weekly learning sessions held in Portland, Bangor, Lewiston/Auburn, Rockland and Waterville. Beginning with just a dozen entrepreneurs in Portland in 2009, this year Top Gun will serve 47 startup businesses thanks to regional partnerships.

To date, Top Gun has assisted 200-plus entrepreneurs across the state in launching their businesses.

There will be 10 finalists presenting at that showcase, two from each of the five regional partners. The two top companies will each receive a $25,000 prize to be used to advance their business. A judging panel will select the two winners. The second $25,000 prize is from Maine Technology Institute, which has been providing the cash prize the last several years. In past years there has only been one prize awarded.

Entrepreneurs from each Top Gun location in Bangor, Rockland, Portland, Lewiston/Auburn and Waterville will compete in the beginning of May in local pitch-off events to determine the top two regional finalists, who will compete at the showcase event on May 23 and earn a chance to win one of the two $25,000 cash prizes. Entrepreneurs will be required to deliver a five-minute pitch followed by Q & A from a panel of judges that includes investors, successful Maine entrepreneurs and economic development professionals.

The Top Gun program is supported by MCE partners, including the University of Maine, the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, MaineStream Finance, and the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation at Thomas College.

MCE receives funding support from corporate and nonprofit sponsors, local businesses, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Small Business Administration. Additionally, Maine Center Ventures, the University of Maine System's new Graduate and Professional Studies initiative, will host the 2019 Top Gun Showcase at University of Southern Maine's Abromson Hall on May 23.

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