What is MIRTA?
MIRTA is an accelerator program designed specifically to develop UMaine research innovations into marketable new products and services that may lead to new job creation and grow Maine’s economy.
MIRTA applies the accelerator model used in the startup world for technology transfer projects in the university ecosystem. During this intensive 16-week program, participants are guided through market analysis, intellectual property analysis, and business model development. After participation in MIRTA, teams have a roadmap with clear pathways that could include creation of a startup, licensing to a new or existing company or direct engagement with the end user.
From the 17 teams in the first four MIRTA cohorts, seven new startups have been formed, seven patents have been filed or issued, and the teams have collectively raised more than $2.3 million in external funding and prototype sales to support ongoing commercialization. Companies that have been formed after participation in MIRTA include Neuright, winner of the $25,000 David Shaw prize at the statewide Top Gun accelerator program in 2019, and UNAR Labs, selected to join the first cohort of the Roux Institute Startup Residency Program in 2021.
Current Cohort (MIRTA 5.0)
Pursuing commercialization of a 3D-printed aquaculture tank insert made from forest product feedstocks and bioplastic and designed to capitalize on the space-saving and energy-reducing principles of vertical aquaculture to maximize the growth of Eastern Oysters and improve efficiencies for Maine’s small shellfish farmers.
Team: Doug Gardner, professor of sustainable materials and technology; Matthew Nixon, Ph.D. candidate, aquaculture and aquatic resources, and owner of Muddy River Farm Aquaponics
Future Fish Tags
Future Fish Tags is pursuing commercialization of biocompatible implants made from printed titanium foam metals in order to improve tissue integration and animal welfare, and maximize the retention of conventional and electronic tags used on aquatic animals.
Team: Walt Golet, assistant professor of marine sciences, University of Maine and Gulf of Maine Research Institute; Sammi Nadeau, Pelagic Fisheries Lab technician; with external partner Brian McLaughlin, founder and CEO, Amplify Additive
WAVED: Wavelet-based Assessment and Visualization for Early Detection
Pursuing commercialization of patented computer-aided detection (CAD) technology that uses a patient’s mammographic history and clinical data to identify the physical markers believed to be linked to malignant tumor onset and growth, leading to early detection of breast cancer.
Team: Andre Khalil, professor of biomedical engineering, University of Maine; Kendra Batchelder, interdisciplinary Ph.D. candidate in computational biomedicine
Wheelchair Odyssey is pursuing development and commercialization of immersive software to simulate wheelchair navigation in inaccessible, real-world settings. The software will be designed for students in higher education so they can experience the everyday obstacles that wheelchair users face, learn about related Americans with Disabilities Act access requirements, and hear first-person stories from people with disabilities.
Team: Karen Barrett, professor and program coordinator of rehabilitation services, University of Maine at Farmington; J. Chad Duncan, chair/program director, orthotics and prosthetics, Salus University; Avery Olmstead, accessibility subject matter expert
MIRTA Advisory Board & Partners