What is MIRTA?

Logo for the UMaine 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.

An orange graphic with dark blue type - MIRTA fast facts - 21 teams in first five cohorts, eight startups formed, five teams to national i-corps, 7 patents filed or issued, more than $2.5 million raised in external funding and prototype sales.

Questions about MIRTA?

Current Cohort (MIRTA 5.0)

Oyster Pod  

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

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

Susan Ahern 
Vice President of Innovation at MaineHealth
Jason Charland
Senior Advisor to the President and Director of Research Development at UMaine
Blaine Grimes 
Chief Executive Officer at Gulf of Maine Ventures
Michael Mason 
Professor, Chemical and Biomedical Engineering at UMaine and Founder , Xylogen
Joseph Migliaccio 
Director of Business Development at MTI
Brian Rahill 
CEO, CourseStorm

Tom Rainey 
Executive Director at Maine Center for Entrepreneurs
James Ward IV
Vice president of Innovation and Economic Development, at the University of Maine 
Logo for the Maine Technology Institute: black letters MTI over the words Maine Technology Institute next to a colorful design of green, blue, orange, yellow, purple and red bars arranged in a starburst-like design.

MIRTA is made possible by support from University of Maine System Research Reinvestment Fund and the Maine Technology Institute