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Updated: February 22, 2021

Maine's Roux Institute to launch tech accelerator with Colorado firm

Roux Institute office exterior Photo / Jim Neuger The Roux Institute is headquartered at 100 Fore St. on Portland’s East End, in space leased from WEX Inc.

Northeastern University's Roux Institute in Portland is teaming up with a Boulder, Colo.-based seed investment firm called Techstars to launch an accelerator for technology startups, they announced on Monday.

Set to run from September through December, the Roux Institute Techstars Accelerator targets entrepreneurs working in areas that address "the intersection of humans and machines in areas revolutionizing life and work." They include artificial intelligence, life sciences and health, as well as data and analytics.

Ten selected participants will have the chance to grow their businesses through funding and fundraising opportunities, workshops, hands-on mentorship and other resources, in a program led by a Techstars managing director and supported by the Roux Institute and its worldwide network of corporate partners and researchers.

“It’s an exciting time to be joining the northern New England entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Nancy Wolff, general manager at Techstars. Since 2006 the firm has invested in more than 2,300 companies with a combined market value of more than $193 billion. 

Techstars spokesperson Ali Whitman told Mainebiz that the Roux Institute's program is different from other accelerators Techstars has funded in terms of both its focus and location. Though Techstars has had a Boston accelerator since 2009, the Portland one will be its first in northern New England.

News of the planned accelerator was welcomed by Nancy Strojny, a long-time mentor to Portland-area entrepreneurs and 2017 Mainebiz Woman to Watch honoree who recently took on a new role as SCORE Maine assistant director.

"This effort will bring together an immersive education, exceptional mentors, and talented entrepreneurs," she told Mainebiz. "Accelerators have a positive impact on entrepreneurial ecosystems. Maine offers a quality of life and access to resources that is unique. This critical intersection can meaningfully improve the odds of success for startups."

Innovation hub ambitions

The Roux Institute was founded in early 2020 with $100 million from David and Barbara Roux, and this past October received another $100 million from the Harold Alfond Foundation.

The institute aims to turn Portland into a regional innovation hub focused on technology and life sciences, a mission the accelerator aims to further. The institute also recently announced the selection of six startups for a new residency program.

“The Roux Institute has rapidly developed a robust infrastructure to support early-stage businesses," said Chris Wolfel, director of entrepreneurship at the Roux Institute, in Monday's announcement. "Having just launched our residency, the Roux Institute Techstars Accelerator was a natural next step. We're looking forward to attracting some of the best companies around the world to Maine."

Applications for the accelerator's inaugural cohort are being accepted through May 12. More information is available here.

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