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Central Maine Organizations Unite to Foster Innovation and Entrepreneurship Through Series of Pitch Contests

April 25, 2024

Waterville, Skowhegan 4/25/2024 – Five prominent organizations in central Maine —Dirigo Labs, Main Street Skowhegan, Colby College, Thomas College, and Kennebec Valley Community College—are proud to announce a collaborative effort aimed at supporting local entrepreneurs and cultivating innovation throughout the region. Together, they are hosting a series of pitch contests designed to provide founders with a platform to showcase their ideas and receive valuable feedback and support.

The series of pitch contests will kick off with Colby College’s event, “The Halloran Lab $40K Venture Showcase,” scheduled for Thursday, May 2nd, from 1:00-3:30PM, at the Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond Building. This event is open to the public for in-person attendance, and will be streamed live for those who can’t make it to campus. It promises to be an exciting opportunity for innovators and entrepreneurs to take center stage to compete for a $25,000 first place grant and $40,000 in overall funding. Registration for this event can be found at https://tinyurl.com/37648h4m

“We’re thrilled to offer hardworking and visionary students a stage, exposure, feedback, and funding to propel their ideas to new heights,” said Jeremy Barron, director of the Halloran Lab for Entrepreneurship. “We’re proud of the work they’ve accomplished in just a few months and eager to share their progress with the rest of campus and the entrepreneurial ecosystem at large.” 

Following Colby’s showcase, the “Top Gun Regional Pitch” for Waterville will take place on May 8th at 6 p.m. at Thomas College, providing another avenue for local innovators to pitch their ideas and connect with potential investors and mentors. Registration for this event can be found at https://tinyurl.com/22ewxvpe.

Dirigo Labs will host its own pitch competition on May 22, 2024, at 5:00 p.m. at Greene Block + Studios, featuring 12 startups with innovations in cleantech, medTech, AI, and manufacturing, all eyeing a $25,000 cash prize generously made possible by Skowhegan Savings Bank. Registration for this free event can be found at https://tinyurl.com/5n8kjwdw

“We’re setting the stage for Maine’s most creative minds to shine,” said Susan Ruhlin, managing director of Dirigo Labs. “It’s not just about winning; it’s about celebrating entrepreneurship, fostering ideation, and showing off our incredible founders.”

On May 29th at 6 p.m. Kennebec Valley Community College will host its Entrepreneurship Pitch Night at King Hall, providing a platform for local Maine businesses to fine-tune their pitch and showcase months of work on their business ideas. More information on this event can be found at https://tinyurl.com/m2w3y4zm

“We are excited to showcase the local entrepreneurs advancing through our new program,” said Joe Musumeci, KVCC’s director of workforce training and professional development. “Our training was designed to support unemployed and underemployed workers in Maine who have the entrepreneurial spirit but hit some barriers starting a business. Working with the other entrepreneurship programs in Central Maine and across the state has been incredibly beneficial and helped us fit our program in to offer the most support and accessibility.” 

The series will culminate with Main Street Skowhegan’s Business Lab Pitch Contest and Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge on June 5th at 5PM, located at 185 Water Street, Skowhegan, ME 04976. This event will showcase the creativity and ambition of aspiring and young entrepreneurs while offering valuable support and guidance to help them succeed. Registration can be found at https://tinyurl.com/yc847py3

“Working with both aspiring and established entrepreneurs dedicated to enhancing Central Maine’s vibrancy is always a remarkable experience. We are fortunate to have innovative, talented, and hardworking individuals in our community”, said Patric Moore, director of entrepreneurship at Main Street Skowhegan. “This year is particularly special as we’ve partnered with Skowhegan High School to pilot the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, giving students a platform to present their business ideas and inspire us all.”

Through these collaborative efforts, Dirigo Labs, Main Street Skowhegan, Colby College, Thomas College, and Kennebec Valley Community College are committed to building a region that is supportive of business and innovation. By providing entrepreneurs and founders with access to resources, mentorship, and funding opportunities, they aim to foster a thriving ecosystem of innovation that drives economic growth and prosperity in Central Maine.

For more information about each event, please contact: 

About Halloran Lab for Entrepreneurship: 

The Halloran Lab for Entrepreneurship offers entrepreneurship training and practical opportunities aimed at preparing Colby students to be effective innovators and entrepreneurs—whether they are creating dynamic new business ventures or improving existing organizations or programs. The lab provides funding for students to start commercial and social enterprises, mentorship, as well as innovation and maker spaces on campus and in downtown Waterville. The lab heads the development of an entrepreneurship ecosystem involving alumni, faculty, staff, and Colby community members as well as companies, organizations, and institutions.

About Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation at Thomas College: 

Named for Maine’s premiere entrepreneur and innovator, the Harold Alfond® Institute for Business Innovation has been established to spur economic vitality in Central Maine by nurturing the very talent that will assist in the creation of both jobs and wealth for the area.

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 who are 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. For more information, please visit www.dirigolabs.org.  

About Main Street Skowhegan:

Main Street Skowhegan is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focused on the ongoing revitalization of historic Skowhegan, Maine. Our mission is to celebrate Skowhegan’s rich heritage while achieving our brightest future as a thriving economic, cultural, and recreational community where residents enjoy a high quality of life. 

About Kennebec Valley Community College:

Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) is a 2-year comprehensive community college in mid-Maine serving students from Somerset, Kennebec, and Knox counties and well beyond. KVCC has two campuses in the heart of Central Maine – our 70-acre Fairfield Campus which is readily accessible by I-95 and our 600-acre Harold Alfond Campus just seven miles north. KVCCs Workforce Training and Professional Development office provides a wealth of short-term trainings that are targeted toward business and industry and professional development. KVCC is a collegial environment emphasizing student success and respect for a diverse population of employees, students, and community members. 

Last modified: May 10, 2024

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