BRUNSWICK – The Board of Directors of the Maine Technology Institute approved two awards from the Emerging Technology Challenge for Maine’s Forest Resources, each for $750,000.
The Challenge was launched in December and was part of MTI’s collaboration with the Forest Opportunities Roadmap in supporting the development and/or attraction of emerging technology companies in the forest resource sector, using Biobased Maine as an external contractor to vet and evaluate the proposals.
The two companies receiving the awards represent different natural resource-based technologies that make use of Maine’s forest resources and supply chain.
The first $750,000 award was made to GO Lab Inc. GO Lab, a building products manufacturer in Belfast, will transform the insulation market in the next 10 years.
Its insulation, made from wood fiber, is renewable, recyclable, nontoxic, and performs as well, or better than, other available insulation. GO Lab’s production plant, at the former UPM paper mill in Madison, will consume 180,000 tons of softwood chips annually, create 100 jobs and generate approximately $70 million in annual revenue.
They will become the leader in manufacturing wood-dominant, environmentally preferred building materials. The company will help fill the void left by the demise of paper manufacturing in Madison, and in turn, will improve the long-term viability of Maine’s rural, forest-based economy.
The second $750,000 award was made to Biofine Developments Northeast. The funding will allow BDNE to carry out the commercial development of the first large scale bio-refinery deploying Biofine’s technology in Bucksport. The plant will enable the conversion of woody biomass to the chemical intermediate, levulinic acid allowing economic production of a completely renewable heating oil substitute. Biofine will work with Treadwell Franklin-Sewall as development consultants and the University of Maine at Orono for technical operations.
The goal of MTI’s Emerging Technology Challenge for Maine’s Forest Resources is to help diversify and build more resilience into Maine’s forest industry.
Responders to the challenge were expected to submit information to describe their strong business case, feedstock fit with Maine, the technical and technoeconomic merit of their technology, economic benefits to Maine, and geographic fit. Responses were evaluated for those same criteria and, as a condition of the awards, both recipients must demonstrate a minimum one-to-one match to the Challenge Grant, consistent with all MTI awards.
While this innovation challenge was restricted to emerging technologies for Maine’s forest resources, the challenge has served as a pilot project to inform MTI innovation challenges in other sectors in the future to benefit Maine’s overall economy.