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Updated: June 21, 2024

Orono startup gets $1M grant for development of ocean-friendly packaging

Ariadne Dimoula File photo / Tim Greenway Ocean researcher Ariadne Dimoula is the founder and CEO of a startup that aims to put a lid on disposable consumer goods made from plastic.

Paramount Planet Product, an Orono startup founded and led by ocean researcher Ariadne Dimoula, will use a $1 million federal grant to start making ocean-friendly, plant-based packaging in a couple of years.

The funding comes from the National Science Foundation, which awarded an initial $225,000 a few years ago

With the new grant, the company will develop its manufacturing capacity and prepare for commercial launch.

“We are working on our pilot plant production and looking to house this manufacturing in Maine,” Dimoula told Mainebiz. “As the pilot plant successfully starts, we plan to grow into full commercialization by 2026.”

While the company has its office in Orono's village commercial district, the prototyping lab is in Portland at the Roux Institute of Northeastern University, where the company is participating in a founder residency program that wraps up in August.


Dimoula said the new funding comes at a crucial time for her mission-driven company.

"When you are an early-stage company like us, and you are making innovative products but are pre-revenue, you are faced with the choice of taking on debt equity, which at such an early stage can result in losing control of your company," she said.

"Having the National Science Foundation Small Business Innovative Research Phase II supporting the development and launch of these products means we do not have to compromise on our core mission, protecting the ocean, while delighting our customers," she added.

As for the target market, she said, “We are especially honed into coastal communities and looking to replace the plastic butter dishes/condiment cups, as these were found to be washing up on the shoreline. But we are very interested in discussing with other restaurant suppliers who are interested in this market.”

Dimoula founded Paramount Planet Product in 2017 to develop cellulose technologies for making products that would be compostable within the ocean and safe for marine life.

In 2019 for a Mainebiz cover story about eco-innovators, Dimoula (who dropped the "s" from her surname in the meantime) talked about teaming up with researchers at the University of Maine to pioneer a material called plaaper (pronounced PLAY-per).

At that time, Dimoula described plaaper as “kind of like plastic, but it’s really paper,” adding that “plastic is out, plaaper is in.”

Today, the company has a team of four employees and expects to do more hiring in the near future, Dimoula said.

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