Stylized circle with orange/yellow/pinks at the top half and blues and greens in the bottom half. Text in the center of the circle reads: The Foster Center Innovation Awards: Building community through innovation

The Foster Center Innovation Awards recognize and celebrate innovation and entrepreneurship in the University of Maine community.

Winners will be celebrated at an awards ceremony at the Foster Center for Innovation on the evening of April 14, 2022, as part of Maine Impact Week

Livestream the awards ceremony beginning at 6 p.m. on April 14

Read more about the 2022 winners.

Congratulations to our 2022 Innovation Award winners!

Student Awards

multicolor circle with white bar in center, text in white bar reads: The impressive innovator award Kendra Batchelder. An adjacent circular image is black and white and features a person.The Impressive Innovator Award is presented to a UMaine student who has developed innovative solutions leading to social, cultural or economic impact on campus or in the wider world. This year’s winner is Kendra Batchelder ‘11, ‘13G, a UMaine Ph.D. candidate in computational biomedicine and member of the Computational Modeling, Analysis of Imagery and Numerical Experiments (CompuMAINE) lab led by professor of biomedical engineering Andre Khalil. The two are co-inventors of a patented computational approach designed to aid in the early detection of breast cancer and have been working to commercialize this technology.  

multicolor circle with white bar in center, text in white bar reads: The standout startup award Ferda Farma. An adjacent circular image shows the Ferda Farms logo.The Standout Startup Award is presented to a student-led startup at UMaine that has exhibited initiative, resilience and humility in the face of challenges. This year’s winner is Ferda Farms, an oyster farm on the New Meadows River in Brunswick, Maine that was co-founded in 2018 by high school friends Max Burtis and Sam Dorval. During their college years, Burtis, a senior mechanical engineering major, and Dorval ‘21, incubated their business at the Foster Center, working to scale up production and diversify their crop. 

Faculty Awards

multicolor circle with white bar in center, text in white bar reads: The MIRTA Spirit Award Team Xylogen. An adjacent circular image shows a variety of composite wood products arranged on a table.The MIRTA Spirit Award is presented to a MIRTA team that, following completion of the program, continues to demonstrate an entrepreneurial mindset and that has made significant progress in post-MIRTA commercialization efforts. This year’s winner is Team Xylogen, which has formed a biomedical startup to commercialize a nanocellulose composite material suitable for a range of biomedical uses. Since completing the MIRTA program in 2019, the team, led by professor of biomedical engineering Michael Mason, has partnered with BESPA GLOBAL, a consortium of doctors experienced in commercializing technology, to create Xylogen Medical to bring this technology to market. The company has secured its first medical device company partnership, established a research, development and commercialization timeline, and is generating prototypes for customer and market evaluation.

multicolor circle with white bar in center, text in white bar reads: The Foster Innovation Award Dr. Dorothy Klimis-Zacas. An adjacent circular image in black and white shows a person.The Foster Innovation Award honors a UMaine faculty member who has developed meaningfully unique solutions that have resulted in social, cultural or economic impact in Maine and beyond. This year’s winner is professor of clinical nutrition Dorothy Klimis-Zacas, who has developed wound-healing treatments from Maine wild blueberries for the commercial marketplace, leveraging decades of research into one of Maine’s signature crops. 

Alumni Awards

multicolor circle with white bar in center, text in white bar reads: The Rising Star Award KinoTek. An adjacent circular image shows the logo for KinoTek.

The Rising Star Award honors a recent UMaine graduate who has seen rapid growth and success in an entrepreneurial venture, and inspires other young innovators through their courage and enthusiasm. This year’s winner is KinoTek (co-founded by Justin Hafner ‘18 and David Holomakoff ‘14, ‘17G) a Portland-based company that has developed a digital movement analysis platform that delivers whole-body insights into a person’s dynamic movement. Incubated at the Foster Center and developed with support from the Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction (VEMI) Lab, the company has grown rapidly, with a team that includes several UMaine alumni.

multicolor circle with white bar in center, text in white bar reads: The Doug Hall Alumni Award: Doug Hall. An adjacent circular image in black and white shows a person.The fundamental UMaine values of innovation, creativity and discovery are naturally reflected in our alumni community and, in its first year, it is only fitting to present this award to its namesake in recognition of his contributions to the university. Doug Hall ‘81 is the founder of Eureka! Ranch and co-inventor of the Innovation Engineering curriculum that is the foundation of many Foster Center programs. First taught at UMaine, Innovation Engineering has been adopted by educational institutions around the U.S. and the world, and used to train more than 1,000 Maine government officials and business leaders in the principles of innovation. Hall is author of seven books, has co-hosted network television and radio programs, and contributed to new product development for many household brands.


Community-nominated awards

Students

Impressive Innovator Award: One of the key characteristics of an innovator is the ability to make unique connections between seemingly unrelated ideas. Driven by a passion for learning, they are always searching for meaningful and unique solutions. The Impressive Innovator Award is presented to a University of Maine student who has developed innovative solutions leading to social, cultural, or economic impact on campus or in the wider world. Eligible recipients must be current UMaine students (any level). Open to nominations from the UMaine community.

Faculty/Staff

Foster Innovation Award: Innovation, creativity and discovery are fundamental to who we are and what we do at the University of Maine. They help us serve the people of Maine and people everywhere. We train the next generation of leaders to solve problems and promote solutions for the challenges we all face. The Foster Innovation Award honors a University of Maine faculty member who has developed meaningfully unique solutions that have resulted in social, cultural or economic impact in Maine and beyond. Eligible recipients must be current UMaine faculty members. Open to nominations from the UMaine community.

Alumni

Doug Hall Alumni Award:  The fundamental University of Maine values of innovation, creativity and discovery are naturally reflected in our alumni community. The Doug Hall Alumni Award (named for Doug Hall ‘81, founder of Eureka! Ranch and co-inventor of the Innovation Engineering curriculum first taught at UMaine and adopted by educational institutions around the U.S. and the world) honors an alumnus who is recognized for innovation-driven social, cultural or economic impact in Maine and beyond. Eligible recipients must have graduated from the University of Maine. (In 2022, this award will be granted to namesake Doug Hall. It will be open to nominations from the UMaine community beginning in 2023.)

Awards nominated by the Foster Center team

Students

Standout Startup Award: In the world of entrepreneurship, teamwork is central to success. Individuals, each with their own perspectives and strengths, support one another to turn their shared entrepreneurial vision into reality. The Standout Startup Award is presented to a student-led startup at the University of Maine that has exhibited initiative, resilience, and humility in the face of challenges. Eligible recipients must be current UMaine students (any level) who are collaborators on an active startup venture. Selected by the Foster Center team.

Faculty/Staff

MIRTA Spirit Award: Every innovation starts with an idea. Bringing that idea from the conceptual stage to reality requires dedication and flexibility. UMaine’s MIRTA program is designed to help teams build an entrepreneurial mindset and guide them through the initial stages of the commercialization process. The MIRTA Spirit Award is presented to a MIRTA team that, following completion of the program, continues to demonstrate an entrepreneurial mindset and that has made significant progress in post-MIRTA commercialization efforts. Eligible recipients are University of Maine System teams that have participated in the Foster Center’s MIRTA program (any completed cohort). Selected by the Foster Center team.

Alumni

Rising Star Award: Entrepreneurship is a bold path at any age, full of twists, turns and uncertainty. The Rising Star Award honors a recent University of Maine graduate who has seen rapid growth and success in an entrepreneurial venture and inspires other young innovators through their courage and enthusiasm. Eligible recipients must have graduated from the University of Maine within the past five years and be the founder or co-founder of a company. Award may be granted to an individual or to a company founded by an individual who meets the eligibility criteria. Selected by the Foster Center team.