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PR: Dirigo Labs Selected to Receive $150,000 from National Small Business Administration Catalyst Grant Competition

October 23, 2023

Accelerator Program will utilize Phase II funding to connect rural entrepreneurs with Dirigo Labs’ suite of services and diverse sets of federal grant fundingAccelerator Program will utilize Phase II funding to connect rural entrepreneurs with Dirigo Labs’ suite of services and diverse sets of federal grant funding

Inaugural Dirigo Labs Cohort Member and CEO of GenoTyping Center of America (GTCA) Michael Greene giving opening remarks to new Dirigo Labs cohort members and community members on January 26, 2023.

Waterville, ME 10/23/2023 – After successfully securing a $50,000 cash prize in May from the Small Business Development Administration (SBA) Catalyst Phase I, Dirigo Labs was selected as a Phase II SBA Catalyst grantee to encourage ecosystem development throughout the state of Maine for rural and underserved entrepreneurs. In addition to the creation of partnerships with educational institutions and business support services, the SBA Catalyst Phase II funding will be influential in improving Maine’s Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Research (SBIR/STTR) pipeline through Dirigo Labs’ accelerator program. 

The SBIR and STTR programs, mandated as small business set-asides by Congress, play a pivotal role in driving scientific excellence and technology innovation by channeling Federal research funds toward crucial U.S. priorities and associated startups. These highly competitive initiatives are designed to compel domestic small businesses to actively participate in Federal Research and Development with a focus on potential commercialization. This strategy not only stimulates high-tech innovation, but also instills an entrepreneurial drive, addressing specific research needs critical to fortifying the local and national economy.

“We are absolutely thrilled that Dirigo Labs has received this SBA Catalyst phase II award,” said Susan Ruhlin, Managing Director of Dirigo Labs. “Our team is passionate about strengthening Maine’s SBIR/STTR funding opportunities and collaborating with partners to create an inclusive support system for underserved entrepreneurs across the state. With the support of this program, we are confident that we can break down barriers and ensure that all early-stage startups can access the technical assistance they need to be successful. This award is truly an exciting step towards transforming and expanding Maine’s innovation ecosystem so that all entrepreneurs, regardless of background or geography, can turn their ideas into thriving businesses.”

After being selected as 1 of 40 out of 355 U.S.-based applications for Phase I, Dirigo Labs was subsequently chosen as 1 of 35 awardees out of 38 Phase II applicants. The creation of the Growth Acceleration Partnership symbolizes a collaborative effort to support Maine-based entrepreneurs with federal funding while empowering collective impact throughout Maine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

“The creation of the Growth Acceleration Partnership is a pivotal moment for Maine’s local, regional, and statewide entrepreneurial ecosystem. With a strategic focus of supporting high-growth companies with federal funding opportunities, Dirigo Labs is spearheading a collaborative effort in downtown Waterville that will undoubtedly transform the landscape of SBIR/STTR applicants and startup companies in the state. This initiative will not only increase resource awareness and funding access but also provide a platform for entrepreneurial collaboration,” elaborates Central Maine Growth Council Director of Planning, Innovation, and Economic Development Garvan Donegan. “By investing in SBIR/STTR readiness assessments and nurturing startups, Dirigo Labs is ensuring that every entrepreneur receives tailored support, regardless of their stage of development. This partnership exemplifies the power of collective action in driving economic growth and innovation in Maine.” 

For more information about the Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, please visit wwww.sbir.gov/accelerators.   

About Dirigo Labs:
Dirigo Labs is a regional startup accelerator based in Waterville, Maine. With a mission to grow mid-Maine’s digital economy by supporting entrepreneurs building innovation-based companies, the Dirigo Labs ecosystem brings together people, resources, and organizations to ensure the successful launch of new startups. Dirigo Labs operates under Central Maine Growth Council and is supported by several organizations, academic institutions, and investment firms. To learn more about Dirigo Labs, please visit www.dirigolabs.org

Last modified: November 20, 2023

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