Early Adopter Pilot

Is your Maine-based company developing a product or service where the State of Maine as an institution could be an early adopter customer, beta-tester, or pilot phase participant?

What is an "Early Adopter"?

“Early adopters” are the first customers to adopt a new product and/or technology before much of the population does. They’re often called "lighthouse customers" because they serve as a beacon of light for the rest of the population to follow, which will take the technology or product mainstream.

The Early Adopter Pilot Program is designed to help Maine companies develop innovation solutions and determine product-market fit. It is also designed to help the State of Maine find innovative approaches to its work. The program can be used for early adoption testing, beta-testing, or piloting concepts and products.

The State of Maine intends to lead by example on the key pillar of the Strategic Plan – Innovation.

Program Details:

Maine Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD) has launched a one-year pilot “Early Adopter Program” to support innovations by Maine businesses. In this pilot year, DECD will host quarterly opportunities for up to three selected Maine companies to “pitch” an idea for a time-limited project in which a State agency or office would be an early adopter, beta-tester, or pilot customer for that company’s newly developed product and/or service.

Application Process:

The Early Adopter Program has a two-stage application process:

  1. Maine-based companies submit the application form with a brief overview of the project they would like to pitch to a State agency or office.

  2. A committee of appropriate representatives from DECD and other State agencies will review the application submissions and select up to three companies each quarter to present their ideas. Based on the presentations, all, some, or none of the companies may be selected to move forward with an Early Adopter project agreement.

The length of agreements with individual companies will be determined on a case-by-case basis, depending on the agreed upon project scope.

Note that participation in the Early Adopter Program does not guarantee long term vendor relationships with the State of Maine and is not an alternative to the RFP process. The purpose of this program is to help Maine companies launch innovation solutions and determine product-market fit, while also helping the State of Maine find innovative approaches to its work.

Application Form and FAQ:

Early Adopter Program Description and Application Form (Word)

Early Adopter Pilot Program FAQ (PDF) - Updated April 15, 2021

Early Adopter Pilot Program - Q&A Webinar Notes (PDF)

Evaluation Criteria:

Project proposals will be evaluated at both the application and presentation stages based on the following criteria:

  • The product and/or service is appropriate for the program based on innovation (new enough to be considered an innovation), feasibility (far enough along in development to be implemented), and legality; and

  • The logistics of the proposed project, the direct expense to the State of Maine (which can be no more than $10,000), and the potential benefit to the participating company and/or the State of Maine.

Projects deemed eligible but not selected to present in the quarter for which they applied have the option of reapplying in future quarters. A feedback session with DECD will be made available to those applicants whose project was not selected for presentation, upon request. 

Timeline and Contact Information:


Communication regarding this Program must be sent to the email address provided below:

Contact Information: BizAwards.DECD@maine.gov

Submitted Questions Due

The upcoming quarter's question submission deadline will be posted here soon. Questions must be submitted to the email address provided above and will be posted to the DECD "Projects Underway" website on a rolling basis.

Application Submission Deadline

Updated Submission Deadline: TBD

Submit to: BizAwards.DECD@maine.gov


The upcoming quarter's presentation schedule information will be posted here soon. Up to three companies will be selected to present each quarter.