In recognition of the unique role of public university research and development (R&D) in driving and diversifying private sector growth, 25 years ago our state’s Legislature established the Maine Economic Improvement Fund (MEIF).
Through this targeted ongoing investment in commercially promising University of Maine System R&D, we’ve been able to build strategic statewide capacity to support hundreds of small businesses here to grow and create thousands of high- paying Maine jobs through new products and processes, while attracting new companies and opportunities to our state. Three-quarters of MEIF dollars are focused at the flagship University of Maine, which has expanded the external R&D funding it attracts annually to Maine from just $25 million when MEIF was born from bipartisan legislative action in the 1990s to nearly$150 million in 2022.
Today, university researchers are at work in our labs and field sites and in your districts helping our heritage industries — including farming, fishing, forestry and manufacturing — innovate for the future through new technologies and talent. At the same time, we are fostering the formation of promising new technologies, like clean energy and biomaterials development for applications ranging from health care to affordable home and highway construction.
We’ve also established world-class expertise essential to Maine’s policymakers and always available to its people, including in climate science, rural public health and education, and most recently, forever chemicals like PFAS.
The hands-on engagement of students in all of our research activities — including undergraduates — distinguishes our state’s public universities, and ensures our graduates are well-prepared to be leaders, problem-solvers and innovators in the Maine workforce and in our communities.
Given this incredible impact, it should come as no surprise that the private sector has consistently called for increasing Maine’s economic competitiveness by boldly increasing public investment in UMS R&D through MEIF, which in 2022 had a 6:1 rate of return and accelerated UMaine’s ascension to the top-tier of America’s research universities by achieving R1 Carnegie Classification.
Doing so, they say — and our track record shows — will create more value-added Maine jobs and products, grow wages, catalyze private sector innovation and investment, and recruit and retain talent to our campuses and your communities — all while sustaining the state’s abundant natural resources and special quality of life.
The University of Maine System is proud of what we have accomplished together with our students and business partners and your MEIF investment, including the success stories showcased in this year’s reformatted annual report. We look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure we realize the full potential of public university R&D and of Maine’s economy.
Thank you for your support,
Chancellor, University of Maine System
Vice Chancellor for Research & Innovation, University of Maine System President, University of Maine and University of Maine at Machias