The Maine Technology Institute has approved 10 grants totaling nearly $2.2 million for state businesses trying to drive innovation and gain market share.

The money originated with the $45 million Maine Technology Asset Fund, approved by voters in 2017, and became available when a Montana manufacturer of cross-laminated timber failed to expand to Maine, thus forfeiting its MTI grant.

“Given the extraordinary challenges facing Maine businesses and organizations during the pandemic, we are very excited and encouraged to announce these noteworthy awards,” said Brian Whitney, MTI president, in a statement released Monday. “The projects align well with the state’s newly adopted 10-year strategic economic development plan and have meaningful economic impacts, especially in rural Maine.”

Whitney said MTI added a little more than $200,000 of its core funding to the bond funds in order to award the grants, to be matched by nearly $32 million in private sector funds. Funded projects include those in Maine’s traditional industries of agriculture, forest products and boat-building, as well as those in aquaculture and precision manufacturing. The grants are expected to create or retain more than 1,600 jobs, according to MTI.

Of 84 proposals, MTI selected these 10 recipients:

• Eastport Port Authority received a $307,500 grant to allow final-phase testing of a patented shipboard heat-treating system to allow for the export of wood chips to European markets for use in renewable energy heat and power projects.

• STARC Systems of Brunswick will invest a $307,500 grant in automated equipment to help speed the manufacture of temporary modular wall containment systems that can be used (mainly by hospitals) for instant isolation rooms, to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

• Twin Rivers Paper Company of Madawaska will put a grant of $300,000 toward enhancing the capabilities of a machine that produces specialty paper primarily for lightweight packaging and labels.

• Springworks Farm Maine of Lisbon plans to expand its aquaponic system with help from a $300,000 grant. The business grows organically certified lettuce, fish and fertilizer while using a tenth of the water necessary for conventional agriculture.

• Acadian Composite Materials of Limestone transforms recycled single-use beverage bottles into lasting and high-performance structural insulated panels for use in the construction industry. The company will use a $280,000 grant to grow its business.

• American Unagi raises eels in Waldoboro and will use its $175,000 grant to add processing equipment for its aquaculture operation, expanding market reach and increasing employment opportunities.

• North Spore of Westbrook uses forestry and agricultural byproducts in its mushroom-growing supply business. The company plans to make equipment and infrastructure improvements to its laboratory with a grant of $164,418 in order to expand production capacity.

• Nyle Systems of Brewer plans to use a $142,981 grant to double production space to meet demand, increase efficiencies and enhance new product development capabilities. Nyle makes lumber kilns, food dehydrators and heat pump water heaters.

• Lyman Morse of Thomaston received a $140,000 grant to add a dedicated location for aluminum fabrication work, convert existing office space to a workshop area and establish a new area for business and management operations. The fabrication division is part of Lyman Morse Boatbuilding.

• Farming Fungi of Springvale grows organic, culinary mushrooms and plans to use a $42,700 grant to help develop an internet-connected indoor agriculture control system. Algorithms can sense and manage carbon dioxide levels, light, temperature, humidity, nutrient dosing, water chemistry and air exchange, thus eliminating hand wiring of controls, signals and actuators to save 50 to 75 percent off traditional installations.


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