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Updated: March 17, 2022

Waterville accelerator picks lineup of 12 startups

Garvan Donegan on a downtown street File photo/ Tim Greenway Garvan Donegan, director of planning, innovation and economic development at the Central Maine Growth Council, said the grant will advance local economic development.

From Brunswick rocket company bluShift Aerospace to a Milford-based tenant screening platform called TrustedRentr, 12 startups have been selected to participate in the inaugural cohort of the Dirigo Labs accelerator program.

The starting lineup, announced Tuesday, was chosen from about 40 teams vetted via over the last couple of months, Dirigo Labs Managing Director Susan Ruhlin told Mainebiz on Tuesday.

Susan Ruhlin portrait head and shoulders.
File photo
Dirigo Labs Managing Director Susan Ruhlin

"As far as the number of applicants is concerned, our process was to meet with referred startup founders first, referred to us by our strategic partners, and if we felt they were a good fit we encouraged them to apply," she said.

Earlier this year, Ruhlin predicted a "convergence of fantastic ideas that are going to launch out of Dirigo Labs.

Launching next week at Bricks Coworking and Innovation Space at the Hathaway Creative Center in downtown Waterville, the program will run through mid-June, culminating with a pitch event. Startup teams were selected based on the stage of development, founder experience, and potential to scale.

Dirigo Labs strategically matches the startups with a temporary board of advisors from a wide range of local and national mentor networks. Founders will also attend weekly seminars while engaging in customized curriculum to execute their project plans.

Dirigo Labs operates under the Central Maine Growth Council and is supported by several organizations, academic institutions and investment firms.

Garvan Donegan, director of planning, innovation and economic development at Central Maine Growth Council and a 2021 Mainebiz Next honoree, attributed Waterville's robust entrepreneurial ecosystem to the region’s secondary and post-secondary educational institutions, a growing tech and innovation hub, and a host of business development resources. 

“Dirigo Labs is actively supporting high-growth potential startups which maximize value creation and develop innovative solutions to advance the region’s long-term economic development potential,” he said.

The Dirigo Labs hybrid operating model accommodates both remote and in-person participation. Teams who need a base of operations will have designated workspace and full access to the Bricks Coworking and Innovation Space facilities. Workshop sessions will be conducted both in-person and remotely. 

“This group of entrepreneurs truly embodies the spirit of Maine with their hardworking, genuine, and thoughtful approaches to running their ventures,” said Emalee Couture, growth manager at Dirigo Labs. ”They're hiring exceptional Mainers, attracting top-notch talent, investing back into their communities, contributing to Maine's economic growth, and serving as inspiration for innovators and entrepreneurs across the state.”

Full list of participants

  • MaineNerve, Alfred
  • bluShift Aerospace, Brunswick
  • GenoTyping Center of America, Waterville 
  • The Good Crust, Canaan
  • Hussey Medical LLC, Waterville
  • Maine Float, Winthrop
  • Ocean Farm Supply, Brunswick
  • Phoebe’s Call, Rockland
  • Prospector Portal, Waterville
  • SlicPix, Dresden
  • TrustedRentr, Milford
  • Wingspans, Providence, R.I., and Waterville

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