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Updated: April 22, 2022

$40M grant program to help Maine tech companies recover from pandemic

Brian Whitney seated on steps outdoors File photo / Jim Neuger “These grants will play a meaningful role in helping to strengthen our state’s tech-based businesses, generate quality jobs and provide for a more resilient and diversified Maine economy," said Maine Technology Institute President Brian Whitney.

Maine technology companies hurt by the pandemic can now apply for relief via a new $39.6 million grant program announced by Gov. Mills on Thursday.

The Pandemic Recovery for an Innovative Maine Economy, or PRIME Fund, administered by the Maine Technology Institute, aims to accelerate job creation and help technology companies that didn't access other federal pandemic-response economic support programs.

Eligible firms can use the funds to help with their recovery from the pandemic, invest in new products and business lines, attract new customers and create long-term economic growth.

The fund will focus on investments in the state’s targeted technology sectors, which include biotech, composites and advanced materials, forestry and agriculture, marine industries and precision manufacturing.

Spurring investment in innovative companies is also a key part of the state’s 10-year economic development strategy and the work of the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee to make Maine more competitive against other states.

“Innovation is a key driver of economic growth, but historically, Maine’s investment in research and development has lagged behind much of the nation,” Mills said. “Programs like the PRIME Fund are reversing that trend and investing in new, forward-looking businesses that will create jobs, retain and attract people to Maine, and build a stronger, more robust economy.”

MTI President Brian Whitney said his organization is excited to see the fund launched after spending a lot of time developing it. 

“These grants will play a meaningful role in helping to strengthen our state’s tech-based businesses, generate quality jobs and provide for a more resilient and diversified Maine economy," he said.

To receive a grant, businesses in one of Maine’s designated technology sectors must employ no more than 250 workers and show that the business has been adversely impacted by the pandemic. 

Uses of grant funds can include payroll, rent or mortgage payments for business facilities, business-related equipment purchases, start-up costs for new programs and/or new markets which may require capital investment, and more.

“One of the key pillars of the state’s ten-year strategic plan is to increase R&D investment levels in Maine,” said Maine State Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors. “The $39.6 million PRIME Fund is consistent with that commitment and provides crucial funding to support our small business community as it recovers from the pandemic and implements solid plans to become stronger and more resilient businesses and employers.”

The PRIME Fund will award grants in two phases. Phase 1, open now, is focused on direct support to businesses that suffered negative from the pandemic. MTI estimates that these awards will range from $49,000 to $400,000, depending upon the size and employment base of the applicants.

Phase 2 will target public-private partnerships that support and bolster Maine’s innovation economy, and is expected to launch this summer.

The governor's Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, approved by the Legislature, lays out a blueprint for investing nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to improve the state's economy. 

Companies may apply for PRIME funds through May 19. More information and application materials are available here.

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