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UMaine Receives $3.5 Million in R&D Awards

Contact: Joe Carr (207) 581-3571 or joe.carr@umit.maine.edu

ORONO, Maine – The Maine Technology Institute (MTI) has selected five University of Maine projects to receive a total of $3.5 million from the Maine Technology Asset Fund.

Gov. John Baldacci announced last week a total of $7.25 million in awards to 10 applicants across Maine.

The Maine Technology Asset Fund, administered by MTI, was established in 2007 when the Maine Legislature and voters approved a $50 million research and development bond.  Research institutions are required to use the money for capital and related expenditures supporting research, development and commercialization projects that will lead to significant economic benefits for Maine.

In the first two rounds of awards, MTI gave out $45.6 million of MTAF funding to 25 projects currently under way. Of those, 16 projects were UMaine-based, which is the largest number of projects to receive funding of any Maine research institution.

The UMaine proposals were chosen from a pool of applicants from throughout the state. Funding is awarded in seven areas: Advanced Technologies for Forestry and Agriculture, Biotechnology, Composite Materials Technology, Environmental Technology, Information Technology, and Precision Manufacturing Technology.

The full listing of awards is online at http://www.mainetechnology.org/.

The new UMaine proposals receiving awards are:

Biomass Engineered Fuel, $1.65 million

Michael Bilodeau

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Process Development Center will use MTAF funds to construct a grass pellet demonstration facility in Fort Fairfield that will convert bioenergy crops grown on fallow farmland into novel solid biomass fuel products for commercial and residential heating applications. The award will also enable the acquisition and installation of research equipment to support energy crop development and selection, pellet quality testing and boiler efficiency testing. This project has the potential to demonstrate a high value product for the nearly 400,000 acres of underutilized farmland across the state, catalyze related economic activity and displace a significant fraction of home heating oil consumption in the state of Maine.

FISHLab: Fisheries Innovation, Sustainability & Health Lab, $600,000

Ian Bricknell

The funding will be used for the FISHLab: Fisheries Innovation, Sustainability & Health Lab construction, with a wet lab with two distinct units containing isolation aquaria. The proposed module will be Maine’s first aquatic Bio-Safety Level (BSL) II facility, with BSL III containment capabilities for the study of fish health pathogens, and will be used by both University and industry partners. This project will advance research, development and commercialization related to the aquaculture as well as the commercial and recreational fishery industries in Maine, the U.S., and internationally.

Advanced Biomechanics Laboratory for Injury Reduction and Rehabilitation, $533,300

Vincent Caccese

MTAF funds will be used to establish a laboratory for the development of high-tech products that result in the reduction of injury due to head impact, injury stabilization, vibration mitigation during emergency evacuation, novel assistive fitness and rehabilitation equipment for persons suffering from injury-related disabilities. The proposed laboratory plan is a result of University of Maine’s cooperative efforts with Alba-Technic of Arundel, Rynel of Wiscasset, Astos Innovations of Newburgh, and LifeFlight of Maine. The laboratory will enable the development of unique and original products by linking advanced research and testing facilities to Maine businesses to accelerate prototype development, testing, and commercialization.

Commercialization of New Technologies for Animal Disease Surveillance, $497,392

Robert Causey

The funds will enable Maine’s biotechnological companies to use the University of Maine’s Witter Center as a field-testing site for development of diagnostic kits for the global market, and will equip Maine veterinarians with the necessary technology to track animal diseases of economic importance.

CIDER: Cyberinfrastructure Investment for Development, Economic Growth and Research, $250,000

Bruce Segee

MTAF funds will be used for the CIDER (Cyberinfrastructure Investment for Development, Economic Growth, and Research) project, which will create a high performance computing resource for economic development, research, and education for the state of Maine. This supercomputer will be housed at and operated by the University of Maine for use by Maine businesses and research institutions. Rather than buying separate computer resources, businesses and research units will add new computational nodes to help expand and refresh the shared resource. The result is a large, high-performance computing system that benefits Maine businesses, trains the future generation of information technology professionals, provides more computing power at a lower cost than otherwise would be attainable, and provides a competitive advantage for Maine businesses.

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