MxG’s annual “State of the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem” reports on the vibrancy indicators identified by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Our 2017 and 2018 findings are available on the History and Impact tab. Each year we report on activities in Maine that can move the needle on these vibrancy indicators—density, diversity, fluidity and connectivity. The 2018 State of Entrepreneurial Ecosystem event was held on March 28, 2018 in Augusta, ME.

2016 Portfolio of Projects

Maine Accelerates Growth is committed to a portfolio approach of financial support for entrepreneurial ecosystem projects in Maine.

MxG’s portfolio goal is:

  • 60% of funds going to support and grow flagship/signature programs with demonstrated impact
  • 20% of funds going to adapt and adopt best practices accepted locally, nationally, globally to a specific Maine community (A “best practice” ​is a technique or methodology that, through experience and research, has proven to reliably lead to a desired result; a commitment to using all the knowledge and technology we have to ensure success)
  • 20% of funds going to seed new ideas and take risks on new people Sometimes new ideas and solutions come from places we might not expect; MxG is open to experimentation and learning from trying new approaches and supporting new ideas.

Flagship or Signature Programs ($100,000)

Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development for the Top Gun program.

Top Gun is a signature program for Maine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and has had a positive impact on multiple MxG ecosystem vibrancy metrics – particularly around density of entrepreneurs and connection of programs and dealmaker networks within the State. MxG funds will match federal funds from the I6 Challenge and allow expansion of the program to a fourth location in the Lewiston Auburn area.

For more information about the Top Gun program, contact Susan Ruhlin at

The University of Maine, Innovate for Maine Fellows program.

Innovate for Maine Fellows internship program is a signature program for Maine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to build Maine’s culture of innovation, pipeline of entrepreneurial talent, and counter the entrenched idea that there are not good jobs for college graduates in Maine. The IMF program connects the best and brightest Maine college students with Maine’s most exciting, growing companies. College and graduate students with a Maine affinity (from Maine or attending college in Maine) are eligible. Students and companies come together to collaborate on innovative projects that accelerate company growth and give students a paid, meaningful, hands-on internship experience. MxG funds will subsidize internships with young companies that might otherwise not engage a paid intern.

For more information about the Innovate for Maine Fellows program, contact Angela McCue at, or Renee Kelly at

Adapt and Adopt Best Practices ($35,000)

The Sustainability Lab for the Maine Food Systems Innovation Challenge.

The Maine Food Systems Innovation Challenge is a new program in Maine that adopts and adapts program designs that have been effective in other locations including hack-a-thons, innovation challenges, and startup weekends. 2016 is the second year of the challenge and the team is broadening its collaborations and better connecting with existing players in the ecosystem. It also brings in student teams and collaborators, including Bowdoin College.

For more information about the Innovation Challenge, contact Bill Seretta at

The Treehouse Institute for TEDxDirigo.

TEDxDirigo is adopting and adapting the TEDx format into an innovation and idea generating event in Maine. At TEDx events, a combination of live presenters and TED Talks videos — sparks deep conversation and connections at the local level. MxG supports this event for its focus on innovative ideas, culture supportive of entrepreneurs and innovators, and the recognition that TEDxDirigo is a powerful vehicle for storytelling. MxG support of the event also provided free admission to the event for interested high school and college students and a specific focus for part of the event on startup and young business storytelling.

For more information about TEDxDirigo, contact Adam Burk at

Our Katahdin for Katahdin Innovation Challenge.

Our Katahdin, in its founders’ own words, is an organization that crowdsources hope for the Katahdin Region. Using an online platform to crowdsource donations for community development, residents propose their idea(s) which Our Katahdin posts on its site and then promotes through social media and the community to raise the necessary funds. This approach focuses on “small wins” and has crowdfunded 21 community projects to date. The small wins have brought a glimmer of hope and momentum to the region.

Our Katahdin is collaborating with multiple MxG organizational partners to apply an innovation challenge approach using the “small wins” strategy in economic development through entrepreneurship. The event will focus on ideas for the bio-based, recreation, or digital economies which best represent the strengths of the region’s people and its resources. This project fits into the MxG portfolio as an adapt and adopt best practices from other areas in a new way, supporting MxG’s goal to learn from what has worked other places and to work collaboratively with new players from less mature ecosystems around the state.

For more information about Our Katahdin and the Katahdin Innovation Challenge, contact Mike Faloon at

Seed New Ideas and Take Risks on New People ($5,000)

Portland Global Shapers Hub (hosted by the Treehouse Institute) for Maine Girls Innovate.

Maine Girls Innovateis a leadership and design thinking program based on entrepreneurship and design thinking programs developed at Stanford University that empowers middle school girls to

be innovative leaders in their schools and local community. With support from MxG, the Global Shapers Hub, comprised of young leaders in Portland (all under the age of 30), will pilot the program at King Middle School. MxG supported this effort for its focus on building a next generation of innovators in Maine as part of MxG’s goal to build a community of entrepreneurs and a culture of innovation. The partners recognized that by supporting young volunteer innovators AND middle school girls targeted by the program that MxG is supporting the development of two populations of innovators and design thinkers. In addition, the Kauffman Foundation metrics on ecosystem vibrancy include diversity and the targeted middle school population of girls are from diverse ethnic and cultural background.

For more information about Maine Girls Innovate, contact Alyssa Bouthot at

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