The Maine Technology Institute awarded $55,785 in grants to seven Maine companies in August 2016.

This round of funding is helping companies leveraging technology in the industries of aquaculture, agriculture, information technology, and precision manufacturing. MTI awarded four TechStart grants totaling $16,655, one Business Accelerator grant of $9,140, one Seed Grant of $25,000, and one Phase 0 KickStarter grant of $4,990. In total, the grants leveraged $105,093 of matching funds from the award recipients.

TechStart grants are designed to help defray a company’s startup costs, including developing a business plan, IP filing fees, etc. Four companies received a TechStart grant in August:

  • The Maine Shoe Project in Northport received a $3,490 TechStart grant, which it matched with $3,490 from other sources. The Maine Shoe Project aims to reinvigorate the Maine shoe industry by offering custom-fitted women’s shoes utilizing 3D scanning technology and CNC milling.
  • Sensory Cyber Systems in Orono received a $5,000 TechStart grant, which it matched with $10,795 from other sources. The company is developing what it calls a Universal Color Mapper, an inexpensive color-and-light emitter and calibrator. The grant will be used for market research to help the company find product/market fit.
  • Sensory Eyesight for Education in Old Orchard Beach received a $3,165 TechStart grant, which it matched with $3,665 from other sources. The company has designed a therapeutic medical device that will enable individuals under the age of 22 with cortical visual impairment to build new brain cells around old damaged brain tissue.
  • Tasman Leather Group in Hartland received a $5,000 TechStart grant, which it matched with $9,262 from other sources. The company has developed several new processing methods to produce leather products, which it claims are in high demand from customers such as the U.S. military, L.L.Bean, and shoe companies like New Balance and Timberland. Tasman Leather Group will use the TechStart grant to produce a business plan.

Business Accelerator grants are provided on a monthly basis to companies seeking up to $50,000 to commercialize new technology or help a business increase its scope and sustainability.

  • Sea & Reef Aquaculture in Franklin received a $9,140 Business Accelerator grant in August, which it matched with $35,740 from other sources. The company, which grows high-quality marine ornamental fish for the aquarium hobby, will use the grant to produce marketing materials, attend a key industry tradeshow, and cover costs to ship sample fish to potential customers. It also plans to add staff to further drive sales and market penetration.

Seed Grants are provided to companies ready to commercialize new technology. The funds can be used for prototype development, field trials, pilot studies, or other technology-transfer activities. MTI offers Seed Grants three times a year. The next Seed Grant application deadline is Dec. 13, 2016.

  • Raptor Maps Inc. in Van Buren received a Seed Grant of $25,000, which it is matching with $37,141 from other sources. Raptor Maps is a analytics company that wants to use drones and sensors to increase agricultural yield for farmers, beginning with potato farmers in Aroostook County. It is a member of the current class of startups in Y Combinator, perhaps the best-known startup accelerator in the world. With the MTI Seed Grant, Raptor Maps foresees expanding its business in Maine.

One company received a Phase 0 KickStarter grant, which helps companies prepare SBIR/STTR federal funding proposals:

  • Alba-Technic in Winthrop received a grant of $4,990, which it will match with $5,000 from other sources, to help in its development of innovative manufacturing methods, including the use of computer-aided modeling software and 3D printing, to produce protective headgear.

MTI, created by the Maine Legislature in 2000, provides funding to Maine entrepreneurs operating in one of seven target industries: aquaculture and marine technology, biotechnology, composite materials, environmental technologies, forestry and agriculture, precision manufacturing, and information technology.