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A Publication Featuring The Information Services Technology of Maine State Government

Volume VI, Issue 11 November 2003

Cornucopia With Leaves
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A Public/Private Collaboration Promoting Maine Businesses

By Philip Helgerson

In 2001, the State of Maine appropriated 6.4 million dollars to establish the Applied Technology Development Center program, offering establishment grants of between $400,000 and $950,000 for infrastructure development.

ATDC Logo

The seven Applied Technology Development Centers (ATDC) operate as independent non-profit organizations, but are unified to leverage resources and enhance opportunities for their clients[1].   The Centers are the “go-to” source of information, training, and resources where client firms get connected with Maine’s strong array of business support services, and networked with appropriate private sector resources. 

In the recently approved economic development “Jobs Bond”, four centers received a total of $2 million in additional funding to complete essential infrastructure work.  The Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) also administers an annual grant program that offers modest financial support for center management and administration.

 The ATDC system (http://www.atdcmaine.org/) is coordinated by DECD, with the assistance of an advisory board that includes representatives from several Maine government offices, (e.g. University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System, MTI, and Maine MEP), and private sector representation from banking, legal, and entrepreneurial sectors.  Appointed representatives currently fill these private sector positions from Bernstein Shur Sawyer and Nelson, Bangor Savings Institution, and Alden Rowing Shells.  

In this second year of operation, the ATDC program is helping more than 20 residential tenant firms, and over 50 affiliate firms.   Firms stay as clients for about three to five years, and then move on to appropriate facilities in the region.  Three companies have graduated from ATDC programs so far. 

Each center has a primary focus in one of the seven targeted technology sectors strategically identified for development in Maine’s economic development plan.   

 Focus Area

Center Name

Location

Environmental Technology

Center for Environmental Enterprise

South Portland

Forestry and Agriculture Technologies

Loring Applied Technology Center

Limestone

Biotechnology, Information Technology

Thomas M. Teague Biotechnology Center

Fairfield

Aquaculture and Marine Sciences

Maine Aquaculture Incubators

Walpole, Franklin, and Eastport

Composite and Advanced Materials

Composite Materials Technology Center

Sanford and Greenville

Precision Manufacturing and Electronics

River Valley Technology Center

Rumford

Information Technology

Target Technology Center

Orono

Partnerships In addition each center has local and regional partnerships with colleges/university branches, technology and business associations, and business and professional partners.  College and university links provide opportunities for student internships, work-study programs, and faculty support for technical and research support. In addition, all the centers benefit from a statewide partnership with the Maine Technology Institute, which provides early stage financing as grants and other awards for technology firms.  

All centers are also partnered with the Maine International Trade Center, offering insights into global markets.  Through these partnerships, all ATDC client firms have access to professional marketing survey, and other international commerce advice.   Through this partnership, two ATDC firms and one ATDC director were assisted in participating in the recent trade mission to Ireland and Northern Ireland.  

All ATDC directors are trained as associated counselors in Maine’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) program.  This center offers direct business counseling services and connections to other SBDC counseling and business support information, training, and referral resources.   Maine’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership also offers support services by linking ATDC firms with technical assistance in product development, production design, and manufacturing, and other federal resources.  

ATDCs are also served by the Maine Procurement Assistance Center and its Market Development Center.  It provides information about federal procurement opportunities, such as the important Small Business Innovative Research Program, sources of early stage funding, and technical assistance. Additionally, all ATDCs and their client firms are also provided full membership status in the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, gaining access to business information and services through that private sector business association.   

Maine’s Jobs Council and local Workforce Investment Boards, through their Career Centers and Training Resource Centers also have a strong partnership with the ATDCs connecting new firms with skill development resources.  

Stay tuned for an upcoming article on Intelligent Spatial Technologies – a new Maine information technology company, located at the Target Technology Center in Orono. 

Questions?  Contact the author by e-mailing philip.helgerson@maine.gov.


[1] Clients may include residential tenants that operate from offices and manufacturing or laboratory space in the centers themselves, and “affiliate” clients that take part in programs without being facility occupants.  


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