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October 16, 2014

Portland waterfront to be site of New England ocean 'cluster'

Patrick Arnold, president of SoliDG Inc., which manages the International Marine Terminal in Portland, and Thor Sigfusson, owner of the Iceland Ocean Cluster, announced today the launch of a Portland-based incubator to help Maine companies develop high-value, ocean-related products.

In a press conference this morning at Pierce Atwood’s office on Portland’s waterfront, Arnold and Sigfusson laid out the vision for the New England Ocean Cluster and an incubator that would house entrepreneurs seeking to create new opportunities in Maine and New England for tenants ranging from boat-building to biotech companies. The Portland-based cluster and its incubator is modeled after the Iceland Ocean Cluster, which has capitalized on Iceland’s fishing industry to develop value-added products from what otherwise would be regarded as “waste.”

The Iceland Ocean Cluster’s incubator “house” has doubled in size to 60,000 square feet since it opened in 2012, and now includes companies using enzymes from fish intestines to make cosmetics, fish oil for hand creams and fish skin for medical bandages. The private sector venture, Sigfusson said, set as its goal utilizing 100% of fish parts not used for food while focusing on higher margins for the new products.

Following opening remarks by Gov. Paul LePage and Portland Mayor Michael Brennan praising the initiative, Arnold said there’s no reason Maine and Portland couldn’t achieve similar successes by following Iceland’s Ocean Cluster model.

“The sky’s the limit,” he said, noting that the New England Ocean Cluster already has lined up eight companies interested in being tenants within what is envisioned to be initially a 30,000-square-foot incubator building on Portland’s waterfront. Initial plans call for as many as 20 companies being located in the incubator.

Arnold said there are active discussions about a potential site but declined to specify with whom or where it might be located.

“Maine has always had hard-working people with great ideas,” he said in a release announcing today’s press conference. “This is an opportunity to link up with and learn from some of the best talent overseas while creating new opportunities in Maine and New England.”

Read more

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Portland business incubator attracts investors

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