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May 12, 2022

New grant supports startup of Waterville startup accelerator Dirigo Labs

people standing Courtesy / Dirigo Labs Dirigo Labs’s first cohort started in March.

Dirigo Labs, a business accelerator in Waterville, received a new grant this week to support its physical infrastructure.

The unspecified amount of money, from the Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation in Portland, goes to the Central Maine Community Betterment Collaborative for Dirigo Labs. The grant is designed to bolster Dirigo Labs’ physical infrastructure in the Waterville area while highlighting the region’s technology and innovation sectors, according to a news release.

“This funding will allow us to build upon our existing groundwork as we launch our inaugural cohort and build greater Waterville’s entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said the labs’s managing director, Susan Ruhlin. 

Housed at Bricks Coworking and Innovation Space, in the Hathaway Creative Center at 10 Water St., Dirigo Labs serves as a conduit for startups seeking access to mentorship, deal flow, venture capital and strategic partnerships. 

“Combining the momentum of building-out a greater Waterville area based innovation hub with the continued growth and revitalization of downtown Waterville, this grant will support entrepreneurs and startups that aim to launch and expand their respective businesses through innovative programming, access to diverse sources of capital, mentorship structures, and dedicated workspace in the downtown district,” said Central Maine Growth Council Director of Planning, Innovation, and Economic Development Garvan Donegan. 

Launched in March, Dirigo Labs is hosting 12 Maine-based startups from various industries, including the manufacturing of floating picnic tables, development of food products, and software services. 

The 12-week program pairs companies with a temporary board of advisors. Participants also have access to a network of local, regional and national mentors and pro bono services. The program includes workshops covering product development strategies, marketing and branding, revenue modeling, customer relationship management and other topics. After completing the curriculum, companies participate in a public pitch event. 

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