Why are you in Maine? People ask us this question often, and they are right to be curious. Maine is a remote corner of the United States, and our PicoHelix systems will most likely be deployed to customers around the globe. Why did we start a business in a state known as “Vacationland”, where most people come to get away from it all?
In recognition of the Maine Startup and Create Week 2016, we wanted to address these questions and talk about what we like best about starting and growing a business in Maine.
Cerahelix is based in Orono, Maine just outside of Bangor- the third largest city in the state. Our location in Maine provides a number of advantages:
- proximity to a land grant university, the University of Maine at Orono, which offers access to Research and Development resources, expertise, and trained employees; the majority of our technical staff are UMaine graduates.
- a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem with support from the state. This includes an incubator system founded with state funds, one of which houses Cerahelix’s lab and offices, and organizations like the Maine Technology Institute and the Maine Venture Fund, both of which have invested in Cerahelix.
- the Maine Seed Capital Tax Credit Program, supported by Maine’s legislature through funding, which encourages equity investments in Maine businesses, directly and through private venture capital funds. Qualified out of state investors can receive up to 50% back on their investments; it is the most generous program of its kind in the U.S.
- access to capital from one of the top 10 most active angel groups in the nation, the MaineAngels based in Portland. This group and its affiliate the Bangor Angels have invested in all three of Cerahelix’s seed stage rounds. Just last week Dr. Susan MacKay, the CEO of Cerahelix, presented at the Early Bird breakfast for the Bangor Chamber of Commerce about the relationship between Cerahelix and the Bangor Angels.
Cerahelix’s proximity to Boston allows the company to participate in the vibrant startup culture of wider New England. The company also benefits from the concentration of capital in Boston which is the second largest amount deployed into startups in the United States. Another advantage is access to programs like Mass Challenge, in which Cerahelix was a finalist in 2011.
Mass Challenge is one of the world’s top five accelerators with over 300 startups supported annually and the biggest mentor network in New England. It has created 6,500 jobs and raised outside funding in excess of 1 billion dollars. 74% of its alums receive follow on funding.
If asked for the most important benefit Maine offers startups, we at Cerahelix would claim it is the network and support system within the state. Maine, with its population of 1 million people, is like one giant small town. With so few degrees of separation, it is much simpler to network. The support is genuine because the success of each business benefits the state as a whole.
The premiere networking event for startups in Maine is Maine Startup and Create Week. The 2016 event took place last week, and Cerahelix participated in one of the showcase events, the MTI TechWalk. Events like this highlight why Maine is such a great place to be a startup business.
Today’s technology allows for remote access which makes it easy to work with people around the world while enjoying the benefits of living in an uncrowded and naturally beautiful place like Maine. Maine is a great place to live; the quality of life is very high and affordable. Cleantech companies like Cerahelix, which promote sustainable manufacturing processes, are ensuring that the state’s beauty and natural resources will be preserved for future generations.