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Updated: January 9, 2024

Waterville business accelerator seeks cleantech 'entrepreneur in residence'

People in a room Photo / Courtesy of Dirigo Labs Dirigo Labs is a Waterville-based business accelerator. Shown here is last year's kickoff event for the 2023 cohort.

The Central Maine Growth Council is looking to hire a clean technology "entrepreneur in residence" for its Dirigo Labs startup accelerator, after receiving a one-year contract from the Governor's Energy Office.

The contract, valued at nearly $112,000, will enable Dirigo Labs to expand its programming to prioritize companies that are active in niches including renewable energy, cleantech, aerospace and environmental monitoring technologies.

"Committed to local economic development, this funding supports startups and entrepreneurs driving Maine toward sustainability,” said Garvan Donegan, Central Maine Growth Council’s director of planning, innovation and economic development.

An entrepreneur in residence would work with members of the next cohort of Dirigo Labs, during an expanded 16-week accelerator program for high-growth startups and cleantech entrepreneurs. The listed salary is $10,000 to $20,000 for a period of six to 12 months, according to the official request for qualifications.

Curriculum additions include unique challenges faced by cleantech entrepreneurs including applying for funding from various sources, navigating energy regulations and policy frameworks and optimizing supply chain and manufacturing processes.  

"This initiative underscores our unwavering dedication to empowering entrepreneurs in the cleantech sector with unparalleled support,” said Dirigo Labs Managing Director Susan Ruhlin.

"Leveraging our extensive national mentor network and enlisting mentors steeped in cleantech expertise, we are actively shaping a robust foundation for entrepreneurial success," she added.

Ruhlin was honored as a Mainebiz Woman to Watch in 2023, while Donegan was recognized on the Mainebiz Next List in 2021.

In addition to hosting an entrepreneur in residence, Dirigo Labs plans to recruit 10 to 15 mentors with cleantech expertise to work with cohort members.

“We are very pleased to award Central Maine Growth Council with this grant that will bring new support for cleantech innovation to Waterville,” said Dan Burgess, director of the Governor’s Energy Office.

He added that the recently awarded funding will help the Dirigo program contribute to both central Maine's economic growth and the state’s goal of having 30,000 clean energy jobs by 2030.

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