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MEIF SCI Overview
The key component of the statutory language passed by the Legislature was as follows:
- Invest in applied research and development in the target areas within; and
- Support the development of private enterprise based upon research and development performed within the University of Maine System and Maine Maritime Academy;
The following goals were established for the program:
- generate measurable economic benefits for the State of Maine through financing high-impact innovation projects, with an emphasis on growing good quality technology jobs;
- encourage stronger linkages among Maine’s research, development and commercialization organizations that will yield sustained gains in the future;
- increase the level of economic activity in the State, through nurturing technology development entities here in Maine as well as attracting new activity from outside Maine.
The MEIF SCI is a competitive award program. SCI awards must be used to fund direct expenditures supporting research, development and commercialization projects that will lead to significant economic benefits in Maine. These expenses can include purchase equipment or renovate facilities to make universities eligible or competitive for federal or private-sector funding.
The awards cannot be used to fund ordinary annual operating expenses, including personnel or indirect/overhead costs.
These projects must fall within the following seven technology sectors:
• Aquaculture and marine technology
• Composite materials technology
• Environmental technology
• Advanced technologies for forestry and agriculture
• Information technology
• Precision manufacturing technology
Organizations eligible to apply for these awards include the University of Maine System and Maine Maritime Academy. Awards must only be used to fund expenditures for projects that will foster growth in Maine’s technology-based economy by moving discoveries along the research, development and commercialization continuum. Projects that span two or more of these stages will be more competitive than those that involve one stage alone, but all projects must be able to demonstrate a path to commercialization as defined below. These projects must provide a critical boost to help Maine translate its research capacity into economic growth.
Applications will be evaluated through an independent and competitive review process for scientific merit, economic impact and related criteria (see “Evaluation Criteria”). The review process will be managed by the Maine Technology Institute in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a respected scientific organization that has assisted over 30 states to implement research and technology commercialization programs.
Final selection will be made by selecting proposals that demonstrate the greatest potential to generate positive economic benefit for the State’s economy. The MEIF SCI is not intended to supplant existing funding sources; demonstration of why a request is appropriate for this fund and not other funding sources will be critical to the success of any application.
The MEIF Small Campus Initiative will support applied research, development and commercialization efforts in the seven above-mentioned technology sectors. As noted above, the projects must aim to move discoveries along the continuum from research to development to commercialization, with the greatest emphasis on those projects that span more than one of these stages. Within this continuum are three basic areas eligible for funding support:
- Research: Original investigation for the advancement of scientific or technological knowledge that will enhance the research capacity of the State in a way that develops businesses, jobs, researchers, or students in Maine and/or attracts them to the State with measurable benefits to Maine’s innovation economy;
- Development: Translational research conducted with the objective of attaining a specific benefit or solving a practical problem or other research activity that seeks to use, synthesize, or apply existing knowledge, information or resources for the resolution of a specified problem for commercial application;
- Commercialization and Revenue Generation: Transition from research to market entry and market competitiveness of new technology processes, products and services. Projects that enables new products and services to go to market within one or more of Maine’s seven technology sectors.
For any application, regardless of which of the above listed areas it falls into, the challenge for the applicant will be to tell a story of why these MEIF resources will allow them to:
- carry out a strong science or engineering project with viable market potential or impact,
- attract/leverage additional funding (federal or philanthropic grants, revenues and/or private investment),
- increase their capacity to collaborate to bring about technology transfer,
- create a culture for new disclosures, inventions, patents or other intellectual property,
- proactively push/pull technology transfer,
- respond to important national, state, and industry needs, and
- bring sustainable economic benefits to the State of Maine.
In conclusion, this is not a traditional research funding program but rather aims to drive economic development and grow Maine’s innovation economy through investments in critical projects. Projects that move technologies the furthest along the innovation continuum towards commercialization and revenue generation, therefore maximizing economic benefit in Maine, will be the most competitive for this program. All applications will be first evaluated for scientific/technical merit, with the understanding that success in the market can only be achieved if a project is based on good science or engineering. Subsequently, those applications that show strong scientific merit, no matter where they fall on the research, development and commercialization continuum, will also be evaluated for market potential and related economic impact for Maine.
The maximum single year award to any institution for this round of the MEIF-SCI will not exceed $200,000. Proposals may request funding for a single year or for multiple-year awards. Multiple institutions may apply jointly in collaboration for amounts up to $300,000. The larger the award request, the larger the expected cost-share, partnerships and collaborations and economic impact.
All applications must provide detail regarding the ownership, location and accessibility of the project assets during the project period, as well as the disposition/ownership of those assets once the project has been completed.
MEIF SCI awards may be used to fund the following capital expenditures and related costs:
- Land purchase and facility construction, improvements and renovations that directly support research, development, and commercialization activities that will yield economic benefits in Maine. Funds can be used for all stages of capital improvement, including architectural and engineering studies and related one-time expenses.
- Equipment, machinery and associated instrumentation. Included in equipment costs are one-time costs such as shipping, set up, insurance, warranties, and initial training on equipment, but not for ongoing operating expenses associated with equipment.
- Initial costs of shared investment (e.g. telecommunications, library search capability) that benefits multiple organizations and improves efficiencies and capacity within or across sectors.
This investment must be associated with a technology project or projects that can be evaluated for science and engineering merit and feasibility as per the project review criteria. MTI may require mortgages and/or security agreements to ensure compliance with contract terms and repayment of any of these capital expenditures. For proposed leasehold improvements, the facility must be subject to a lease which matches or exceeds the term of the award period.
Costs Not Allowed
MEIF SCI monies may NOT be used for any of the following costs, due to restrictions on the use of these funds:
- Cost of obtaining a grant
- Indirect costs such as overhead or general and administrative costs
Eligible Applicants and Partners
The following institutions may be the primary applicant:
- University of Maine at Augusta
- University of Maine at Farmington
- University of Maine at Fort Kent
- University of Maine at Machias
- University of Maine at Presque Isle
- Maine Maritime Academy
Any primary applicant is encouraged to collaborate with other partner organizations including non-profit research organizations and private companies. MEIF-SCI funds may be used to support partner organization expenses through sub-awards as long as all other awards criteria are met (eligible expenses, technology sectors, match, etc.) and sub-awards include necessary provisions to support intellectual property protections and commercialization. The University of Maine and the University of Southern Maine may be partners in projects, however MEIF-SCI funds may not be used to fund any expenses at these two institutions.
State agencies that carry out research or other related activities can be a collaborating partner on a project, but cannot apply for nor receive award funds.