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Updated: October 22, 2020

Life science community touts Maine's advantages in new marketing campaign 

screenshot of man and woman in manufacturing plant Courtesy / Bioscience Association of Maine Prapela CEO John Konsin is shown here in a Bioscience Association of Maine video seeking to attract life science companies in the group's new 'Why Maine?' campaign.

The Portland-based Bioscience Association of Maine has unveiled a collaborative effort to attract life science companies to the state with a new marketing campaign, titled "Why Maine?"

The campaign highlights business and lifestyle advantages of the state with the slogan “Maine, the way life should be.” 

Among the benefits of a Maine location, according to a news release from BioME: a skilled workforce, innovative companies, available building sites, a supportive business network, and quality-of-life attributes, such as affordable housing, good schools, little traffic and natural beauty.

“I moved my startup here from Massachusetts to be close to manufacturing and there was an available workforce here,” said John Konsin, CEO of Biddeford-based Prapela Inc. “Portland reminds me of Seattle in the ‘90s. Maine is going to be a thriving part of our life science ecosystem.” 

Konsin is featured in a video teasing Maine’s advantages. Click here to view the video.

Prapela is developing a specialized hospital bassinet pad. The company moved its commercialization work to the Pepperell Mill campus from Concord, Mass., last year.

Maine is home to more than 400 life science companies. 

“We have multiple billion-dollar companies that are based in Portland, but people don’t hear that story,” said Brian Harris, CEO and founder of MedRhythms Inc.

David Roux, co-founder of Silver Lake and a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, recently provided the seed money to found the Portland-based Roux Institute with Northeastern University. The Roux Institute offers graduate education and research in advanced life sciences and medicine, as well as artificial intelligence, computer and data sciences, and digital engineering. In less than a year, the institute has gotten two gifts of $100 million each, from the Roux Family Foundation and the Harold Alfond Foundation. 

“Boston is a global hub for the life science industry, and Portland is less than two hours away by car,” said Agnieszka Carpenter, executive director of BioME.

“The pandemic has shifted priorities for many companies and employees. Maine offers less populated areas with affordable land and work-life balance, giving people the ability to do industry-leading work, but also maintain a lower cost of living, high salaries, and access to Maine’s natural resources, cultural and recreational offerings.”

COVID-19 has given national exposure to Maine biotech organizations responding to the pandemic with a wide spectrum of solutions.

Abbott Laboratories is expanding its manufacturing, hiring an additional 1,200 people to meet the demand for its COVID-19 testing products. Jackson Laboratory provides the global research community with new, humanized mouse models that accurately recreate the full spectrum of human COVID-19 disease, comprising invaluable, precise new tools for SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and therapeutic development.

Puritan Medical Products produces close to 1 million swabs per week to support COVID-19 testing — one of only two specialty swab production facilities in the world. IDEXX Laboratories, a global leader in veterinary diagnostics, software and water microbiology testing, rapidly pivoted expertise in diagnostic testing for animals to produce a COVID-19 test for humans.

The "Why Maine?" campaign is a collaboration with FocusMaine, an organization working to accelerate the creation of quality jobs within high-growth sectors where Maine has a competitive advantage.

“This campaign highlights many of Maine’s assets contributing to existing strength in the life sciences and supporting the state’s economic strategy," said Kimberly Hamilton, president of FocusMaine. “We identified the biotech sector as an engine of quality job growth well before the pandemic, and we’re more confident than ever that Maine is the right home for companies looking for unique competitive advantages.”

FocusMaine was recently awarded a $5.2 million grant through Maine’s largest philanthropic organization, the Harold Alfond Foundation. The grant was a part of the largest investment the organization has ever made — totaling $500 million for eight Maine organizations, universities and colleges to support the state's 10-year Economic Development Strategy by promoting innovation, enhancing workforce skills and strengthening the state’s infrastructure.

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