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March 23, 2023

Reaching the summit: Roux Institute has new focus on midcoast innovation, entrepreneurs

people posing with signs Courtesy / Annabelle Collette Roux Institute held its first Start Summit in Lewiston earlier this year.

To find new entrepreneurial talent across Maine, Northeastern University Roux Institute has launched a series of gatherings called the Start Summit.

The 2023 series kicked off in January in Lewiston, in partnership with the city, the Community Organizing Alliance and the local library. Start Summing, the current session, being held in Portland from March 23-24, focuses on “From Waste to Prototype.” The next session from April 6-7 will key in on “Outdoor Recreation and Tech” in Skowhegan.

But the main event is scheduled for April 28-29: Rockland Main Street, the Island Institute, Steelhouse, the Penobscot Bay Chamber of Commerce, the city of Rockland, and Mid-Coast School of Technology have partnered with Roux to host a Start Summit on “Innovation in Maine's Coastal Communities.”

The Rockland gathering is expected to bring together thought leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators to explore sustainable economic development in Maine's coastal communities.  

Selected businesses will be invited to compete in an innovation challenge on the topics of workforce sustainability in coastal communities, environmental sustainability of the working waterfront, and the visibility of innovation in coastal communities.

Businesses will compete and be evaluated by a panel of judges with the most innovative ideas being awarded a first-place prize of $3,000 and $2,000 for the second prize.

Panelists will discuss innovations in the blue economy, creating more resilient communities, and critical infrastructure, and will hear success stories from Maine's leading innovators and entrepreneurs. 

The event will also feature discussions where attendees can share their own ideas and experiences and network with other business owners and innovators. 

"Maine's midcoast communities are an ideal location to host this summit to support innovation and growth,” said David Gogel, Main Street Rockland's executive director. “This summit will help catalyze new ideas and collaborations that will benefit our communities and the state as a whole."

Kimberly Hamilton, interim chief programs officer at the Island Institute, said Maine's coastal communities are a critical part of the state's economy and culture. 

“We see tremendous potential for growth and innovation in these areas,” she said. “We look forward to exploring opportunities for collaboration and sustainable coastal development at the Start Summit."

Wendy Blackwell-Moore of Northeastern University’s Roux Institute, said, "We believe that by fostering collaboration and innovation, we can create new opportunities for businesses and individuals in Maine's coastal regions."

The Rockland summit will take place at the Mid-Coast School of Technology in Rockland. The summit is open to the public and free, thanks to support from the Maine Technology Institute, Eaton Peabody Attorneys at Law, and the Island Institute.  

Registration is now open. For more information, click here.

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