The University of Maine’s Foster Center for Innovation seeks Maine students and Maine companies to participate in the 2021 Innovate for Maine Fellows internship program. Applications are open, according to a news release from the university based in Orono.

The program connects the best and brightest Maine college students with Maine’s most exciting growing companies for paid, meaningful, hands-on internship experiences. Program organizers are looking for both student fellows to join the 2021 cohort and a variety of for-profit companies with innovative products, services, or processes to host them.

“In 2021, we believe Innovate for Maine’s mission is more important than ever,” said Renee Kelly, assistant vice president for innovation and economic development at the University of Maine, according to the release. “Many Maine businesses continue to face uncertainty and challenges. For them, Innovate for Maine is an affordable way to bring in fresh perspectives and complete projects that will accelerate growth. For students, it demonstrates that innovative career opportunities aren’t limited to major cities in other states — there are many options right here in Maine.”

Eligible students include those enrolled in undergraduate or graduate degree programs at any college or university in Maine, as well as Maine residents enrolled in degree programs at colleges or universities outside of the state.

Host companies can range in size from small startups to major corporations. Fellows can work full time or part time during the summer, with the possibility of continuing part time during the academic year. Depending on public health guidance, program-related events and internship placements may take place remotely in 2021.

Emphasizing innovation and entrepreneurship, Innovate for Maine prepares student fellows to collaborate with companies on innovation projects that accelerate company growth. Innovation projects can include work on new products or services, process improvements, market research, prototyping, sales forecasting, and more.

Trained innovation experts guide and mentor both the fellow and the company for the duration of the internship. The University of Maine handles all recruiting, screening, matching, hiring and initial innovation and workplace training for companies selected to participate in the program.

Since Innovate for Maine Fellows was established in 2012, student participants have gained exposure to innovative Maine companies and built strong networks that help them find opportunities to stay in Maine. A recent survey of Innovate for Maine Fellows alumni revealed that 70% of respondents were living in Maine and another 10% currently live outside of Maine but plan to return as their careers progress. Nearly 20% of program alumni have started their own companies.

To apply or to learn more about the program, visit umaine.edu/innovateformaine.

Applicants can submit materials to be considered for the early application deadline Feb. 26, or the regular application deadline March 12.