Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

Sponsored by: Dirigo Labs
Updated: March 4, 2024 2024 Innovation Hub

Dirigo Labs

Launch well and grow in Waterville

Nestled conveniently off I-95, Waterville stands as a prime business destination, boasting the state’s only active Foreign Trade Zone, FTZ No. 186, and a recent infusion of over $200 million into its downtown area. The flourishing infrastructure and innovation hub make central Maine the perfect locale for your business endeavors.

Enter the Waterville Area Ventures Ecosystem (WAVe), a collaborative effort of the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation at Thomas College, the Central Maine Growth Council, and the Dirigo Labs accelerator. This unique ecosystem harnesses the collective power of academic institutions, municipalities, a national mentor pool, coworking spaces, and more than 25 strategic partner organizations statewide.

For those in the early stages of entrepreneurship, the Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation at Thomas College offers free assistance throughout the ideation to incubation stages. Services range from market identification and customer discovery to developing a monetization framework and refining business models. The overarching goal is to equip individuals and businesses with the resources and guidance needed to transform ideas into working prototypes or minimum viable products.

The Dirigo Labs accelerator caters to later-stage startups, providing a 16-week immersive experience. Founders benefit from intensive mentorship, hands-on guidance, and access to a robust curriculum. Located in the Hathaway Creative Center, startup teams receive support in navigating fundraising, applying for grants, and leveraging state and municipal incentives. Dirigo Labs also hosts the Better Maine Conference, an annual event focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, dedicated to attracting and sustaining a diverse workforce.

Since 2002, the Central Maine Growth Council (CMGC) has been the go-to resource for businesses looking to launch or expand in the region. Funded by municipalities, philanthropy, and private sector businesses, CMGC serves as the economic development and planning department for four municipalities. Services include site selection assistance, customized data collection and analysis, business plan and financial model analysis, access to incentive programs, and assistance with permits and public policy. CMGC’s recent successful grant applications have added over $45 million to project funding, with efforts aimed at creating a robust economy and a high quality of life in the region. The recent and successful launch of the Economic Recovery Implementation Hub (ERIH) program supported by the Department of Economic & Community Development has provided technical assistance to racial, ethnic, and linguistic minority-owned businesses in Kennebec and Somerset counties in addition to awarding more than $400,000 in grant funding to businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The WAVe ecosystem partners are poised and ready to guide your company’s success, whether you’re at the ideation stage or scaling up an existing business. 

— Mike Duguay, Executive Director of The Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation

— Susan Ruhlin, Managing Director of Dirigo Labs

— Garvan Donegan, Director of Planning Innovation and Economic Development for Central Maine Growth Council