Gov. Paul LePage signed a bill on April 15 that will give voters a chance to approve a $50 million bond that would provide funding for Maine startups pursuing research, development and commercialization of new technologies.
Both the Maine House and Senate approved the bill, LD 1053, earlier in the day by overwhelming majorities.
If approved by voters, the bond will provide $45 million to the Maine Technology Asset Fund, which is managed by the Maine Technology Institute and provides businesses with funding for capital expenditures like buildings and large machinery, and $5 million to the Maine Venture Fund, which provides venture capital to promising Maine startups.
“This is a boon for the ecosystem,” John Burns, MVF’s managing director, tells Maine Startups Insider. “Most early-stage companies don’t have the requisite balance sheets to get bank loans for those large capital assets, so a fund like MTAF that gives them access to non-dilutive capital is huge. For MVF, it allows us to continue to aggressively pursue our mission in the service of the scalable company ecosystem — by investing in and actively supporting Maine-based companies with the potential for substantial growth and success that will contribute to the prosperity of Maine.”
Brian Whitney, president of the Maine Technology Institute, which manages the MTAF, is confident the bond will pass, calling it a “momentous investment in Maine’s innovation ecosystem” in a recent blog post.
“The passage of this bond bill positions Maine well to compete in the third wave, as well as to achieve innovation across our targeted technology sectors – biotech, composites, environmental, forestry and agriculture, information technology, marine and aquaculture, and precision manufacturing,” Whitney wrote, referring to the “third wave” of technological innovation as described by Steve Case in his new book of the same name.
With the governor’s signature, the bond question will now appear on the June 2017 ballot.