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UMaine Researchers Awarded Maine Technology Institute Grants

Three University of Maine-related research projects have received seed grant awards from the Maine Technology Institute (MTI).

The total amount of funding for the three projects, two of which are based in UMaine’s Aquaculture Research Institute (ARI), is $56,398 with $57,284 match.

One of the ARI projects awarded a grant was a research project to study the culture of Pacific abalone as a sustainable business in Maine. Heather Hamlin, an assistant professor in UMaine’s School of Marine Sciences, is working with Robert Bishop, a nontraditional UMaine student and an abalone entrepreneur of 25 years who is planning to open an abalone farm in Maine. The grant will fund the development of protocols for repeat conditioning and spawning of captive abalone, which are not native to Maine and whose broodstock are difficult to obtain. The protocols will allow for additional growers in Maine to expand into the abalone market, which has a large market potential in the U.S. and around the world. Neil Greenberg, an assistant scientist and manager of the Aquaculture Research Center (ARC) at UMaine, is also involved. The technique for rearing abalone in Maine will be innovative. Abalone are reared already in California and Hawaii, but through the use of the flow-through seawater technique. Bishop has developed an innovation for rearing abalone in Maine in a recirculating seawater system.

UMaine research assistant professor Sally Dixon Molloy and Ph.D. student Mike Pietrak, working with ARI research coordinator and Ian Bricknell, UMaine’s professor of aquaculture biology and head of ARI, are involved with ARI’s other MTI grant, which allocates $14,387 to develop a new biological trap for sea lice. The invasive sea louse is considered the greatest economic threat to Atlantic salmon culture in North America, but previous UMaine research has shown that mussels remove sea lice larvae from the water column. The project proposes to demonstrate that the addition of semiochemicals, which would attract planktonic sea lice larvae without attracting other plankton, to a mussel mass will reduce sea lice settlement on salmon as proof of a concept to develop and commercialize a biological trap for sea lice.

UMaine assistant research professor Andrew Goupee is part of a $25,000 grant to help do a detailed Cost of Energy (COE) research analysis of a deepwater foundation for offshore wind farms, known as a Submerged Web Foundation (SWF). The COE analysis is expected to strengthen future grant proposals and help fundraising and business development activities. Last year, MTI funded a preliminary analysis of the SWF that generated strong results. Goupee is working on the project with Oceanwind Technology LLC of Medford, Mass. MTI is an industry-led, publicly funded, nonprofit corporation that offers early-stage capital and commercialization assistance in the form of competitive grants, loans and equity investment for the research, development and application of technologies that create new products, processes and services, generating high-quality jobs across Maine. MTI Seed Grants of up to $25,000 are offered three times a year to support early-stage research and development activities for new products and services that lead to the market.

Contact: Jessica Bloch, (207) 581-3777 or jessica.bloch@umit.maine.edu

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