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Updated: August 7, 2023

Women to Watch: Agnieszka Carpenter leads trade association touting Maine's biosciences community

Photo / Wojciech Bednarczuk As executive director of the Bioscience Association of Maine, Agnieszka Carpenter says there’s a lot of momentum in the life sciences in Maine.
BioME (Bioscience Association of Maine)  28 Maple St., Suite 302, Portland Trade industry group for the life sciences community in Maine Founded: 1995 Number of employees: 3 Number members: Over 250 member companies See all the Women to Watch profiles
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Agnieszka Carpenter is executive director of the Bioscience Association of Maine, whose mission is to advance economic growth and opportunities in the life sciences community of Maine by allocating equal involvement in advocacy, education, economic development, workforce development and out-of-state business attraction. There are roughly 500 life sciences firms in Maine, contributing $2.2 billion to Maine’s economy. The sector supports 9,500 jobs, with an employee’s annual earnings averaging $109,000, according to BioME. The nonpofit has established a scholarship program, career expo, student showcase and science camp scholarships, providing financial support and opportunities for Maine students.

Photo / Wojciech Bednarczuk
Agnieszka Carpenter, executive director of the Bioscience Association of Maine

Carpenter organized the Maine Pavilion at the BIO International Convention in Boston — assembling partners and sponsors to develop key messaging, working with a design team to create a showcase of Maine as a thriving hub of life sciences innovation and opportunity, and hosting a reception to foster networking and collaboration.

Bioscience professionals praise Carpenter’s ability to convene stakeholders, drive collaboration and promote Maine’s bioscience industry on a larger scale.

Mainebiz: What’s your background?

Agnieszka Carpenter: I moved from Poland to the U.S. — straight to Maine — in 2009. My husband and I thought Maine would be great place to raise a family.

MB: How did you come to your current position?

AC: I have a master’s degree in English literature and linguistics and a bachelor’s degree in management and marketing. I started my career as an English teacher in Poland. When we moved to Maine, I wanted to use my business degree. I got an internship with the Maine International Trade Center, where I worked with many life sciences companies. In 2015, Bioscience Association of Maine’s board chair asked if I wanted to work for BioME, initially for marketing.

MB: How did those activities unfold?

AC: The organization started in 1995 but went through different levels of activity. I was hired to do some marketing and bring the organization back to the surface. We listened to our members, did events, introduced programs. I became executive director in 2017 and now we have three full-time staffers.

MB: How do you get word out?

AC: Our mission is to grow bioscience in Maine, to create opportunities for our community. We’re very intentional when we say ‘community,’ not ‘industry.’ We work with students, researchers, academia and biotech professionals. We do so through all sorts of events, conferences and programs.

MB: What are top issues in the field?

AC: One issue is attracting talent. One strategy is to nurture and foster existing talent and help life science major students and K-12 students interested in science to raise awareness of what’s happening in Maine — and that there are jobs here.

MB: What are some outcomes?

AC: There’s a lot of momentum in the life sciences in Maine right now. We’re trying to capitalize on the momentum. We’re spending a lot of time on communication, strategy and marketing. Maine has a strong brand and strong heritage industries. Our belief is that life sciences are the future of Maine’s economy. We’re not trying to change the Maine brand: We’re trying to add to it.

There’s a lot of interest in Maine from the global and U.S. life sciences community. Four years ago, the conversation was along the lines of, ‘There’s biotech in Maine?’ Now it’s, ‘How do we work with you? Tell me more.’

MB: Was there a tipping point in the recognition of Maine’s potential?

AC: COVID was a huge factor in recognizing Maine as a life science center. We’ve known for a long time that Maine has expertise in diagnostics. Now there were serious world problems to be solved and Maine companies punched above their weight, coming up with innovative solutions in a short period of time. That resulted in recognition of Maine as an emerging biotech hub.

MB: What’s ahead?

AC: We want to see Maine become the next biotech hotspot. I’m very intentional in creating a strong network of partners, because that’s what it will take — a dedicated group of people who believe what we believe, but also who believe in creating a long-term strategy for Maine life sciences.

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