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Updated: July 27, 2020 12 things that define Maine

Maine’s biotech industry comes into its own

Photo / Tim Greenway Ramunas Stepanauskas, a senior research scientist at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences.
Photo / COURTESY MARKO PENDE/PRAYAG MURAWALA/MDI BIOLOGICAL LABORATORY An image of an axolotl captured using the DEEP-Clear method at MDI Biological Laboratory.

Biotechnology is often rooted in business “clusters” around major metropolitan areas, but Maine has become a cluster in its own right.

The state is now home to more than 200 bioscience businesses and organizations. They range from Maine’s second-largest public company by revenue, Westbrook-based IDEXX Laboratories Inc. (Nasdaq: IDXX), to one of the smallest, ImmuCell Corp. (Nasdaq: ICCC), of Portland.

Both IDEXX and ImmuCell develop products for the animal health industry. Both were founded in the 1980s, but have made shifts in their scientific focus over the years. IDEXX, for example, responded to the pandemic by adapting a veterinary diagnostic test for use in humans.

Maine’s bioscience businesses draw on the state’s long history of cultivating scientific research. It includes iconic institutions such as the Jackson Laboratory and MDI Biological Laboratory, both in Bar Harbor, and the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, in East Boothbay.

At the other extreme is one of the newest entrants in the Maine biotech field, ElleVet Sciences. Founded in 2017 and led by former IDEXX executives, the Portland startup also focuses on animal health, with therapeutic chews and oils derived from hemp, a form of cannabis.

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