Governor Mills Announces $500,000 Innovation Challenge to Spur Clean Energy Start-Ups, Create Jobs

April 22, 2021

New grant program from the Maine Technology Institute will support Maine clean energy companies, create jobs, and fight climate change

Montville, MAINE – Governor Janet Mills today announced a $500,000 grant program to spur innovation, support clean energy start-ups, and create jobs in Maine’s fast-growing clean energy sector.

The “Maine Clean Energy Innovation Challenge” is a joint initiative of the Governor’s Energy Office and the Maine Technology Institute to spark innovation, develop new companies, and create jobs in the state’s burgeoning clean energy economy. Details about the grant program are now available on MTI’s website here.

The governor made the announcement on Earth Day at ReVision Energy, which is one of the leading solar energy companies in New England.

“Companies like ReVision Energy, which started as a two-person shop in Liberty, Maine, are showing how the clean energy economy creates good-paying, sustaining careers across all of Maine,” said Governor Mills. “I have pledged that Maine will see 30,000 clean energy jobs in Maine by 2030, and with the Maine Clean Energy Innovation Challenge, we are stepping up our support for clean energy entrepreneurs to help them create these jobs and fight climate change at the same time.”

“ReVision Energy is proud to play a leading role in helping grow Maine’s clean energy economy, and we applaud the Innovation Challenge as a way to help a new generation of Maine companies thrive,” said Vaughan Woodruff, Director of the ReVision Energy Training Center. “The bold climate and clean energy actions by the Mills Administration are driving demand for a new generation of professionals who can live and work here in Maine in long-lasting careers that pay well and will help further strengthen communities across our state.”

“The Maine Technology Institute is pleased to offer the Maine Clean Energy Innovation Challenge and help Maine companies advance their great ideas,” said Brian Whitney, President of the Maine Technology Institute. “If you are a clean energy company or entrepreneur ready to take the next step with your product or technology, we encourage you to visit our website for more about the Challenge.”

“A thriving clean energy economy is rooted in innovation, and the Governor’s Energy Office is thrilled to work with MTI on the Challenge to help companies develop their ideas reduce dependence on fossil fuels and fight the effects of climate change,” saidDan Burgess, Director of the Governor’s Energy Office. “Creating jobs, strengthening our economy, fighting climate change, and protecting the health of the state we love and call home go hand-in-hand.”

With Maine adopting some of the nation’s most ambitious clean energy and climate goals, recent studies report that Maine is now well-positioned to create a thriving clean energy economy by increasing support of innovation, startups and entrepreneurs.

Maine’s investment in research and development, a key driver of economic growth, has ranked among the lowest in the nation. Maine also has among the fewest clean energy jobs per capita in New England, behind Massachusetts, Vermont and Rhode Island, where clean energy jobs are among the highest per capita in the country.

The Maine Clean Energy Innovation Challenge is a first step of increasing that support, by making funds available to existing clean energy startups to advance clean energy or climate technology, and aid Maine’s progress toward achieving its bold targets.

In addition to the Challenge, Governor Mills said her administration is continuing to develop programs to grow the state’s clean energy economy through public-private partnerships, apprenticeship, internship and career programs, and workforce development initiatives to support the state’s goal of having 30,000 clean energy jobs in Maine by 2030.

The Challenge is the second joint effort with MTI and GEO this year on clean energy innovation. Earlier this year, MTI, GEO and the energy and environmental economic development nonprofit E2 Tech collaborated to prompt Maine clean energy start-ups to enter the Cleantech Open, a prestigious national accelerator program.

The Challenge is also the second such industry effort recently initiated by MTI. In 2019, a successful pilot program focused on the forest products industry invested $1.5 million to advance two natural resource-based technologies in Maine.