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Updated: February 6, 2023

Innovate for Maine Fellows Program to double cohort size in 2023

Renee Kelly standing outside FILE PHOTO / SOUBANH PHANTHAY Renee Kelly is associate vice president for strategic partnerships and innovation at the University of Maine.

A Maine program that matches college students with growing companies for paid internships is ramping up in 2023, thanks to additional state funding.

The Innovate for Maine Fellows Program at the Foster Center for Innovation at the University of Maine in Orono is looking to double the cohort size this year to around 50 fellows.

"This is made possible by additional funding from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to address the challenges startups and small businesses face in accessing and bringing new products to market," Renee Kelly, UMaine's associate vice president for strategic partnerships and innovation, told Mainebiz.

Kelly was unable to say how much in extra funding the expanded fellowship program will receive, "because it is part of a larger set of services we are launching called the Solutions for Maine Innovation Hub to support startups and small businesses impacted by the pandemic, all funded by the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan." She said more details on those plans will be released soon.

Far-reaching impact

Since the program was launched in 2012, around 250 students have participated, gaining valuable hands-on experience and making useful professional connections across the state.

For employers that take on Innovate for Maine Fellows without much hiring experience, Kelly has described the program as a way to tap into talent "in a toe-dipping way."

"One of the most important things for companies to know is that these students are trained and mentored by the Foster Center team so they can take on challenging projects, and for students that means that they are really meaningful work experiences that will help them grow professionally," Kelly said.

"The program is also focused on helping students build their professional networks, so for students who want to stay in Maine and for those who are curious about Maine, we can connect them and show them the amazing opportunities with Maine companies that they probably would never have heard about."

Eligible students include undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at any Maine college or university, as well as Maine residents enrolled in degree programs outside the state and college students with strong ties to Maine.

Fellows can work full or part time during the summer, with the possibility of continuing part time during the school year.

UMaine recruits, screens, matches, hires and trains fellows to work on projects for companies selected to participate in the program. Fellows always start with a boot camp before heading to their assigned hosts.

More information

This year's deadline for fellows and host companies to apply is March 5. Those who are interested can find out more and apply here. 

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