The State of Maine’s investment in the Maine Economic Improvement Fund (MEIF) is a vital and ongoing commitment to advancing the research mission of Maine’s public universities. With the flagship University of Maine leading the way, the University of Maine System multiplies the impact of MEIF funding several times over by advancing knowledge and research that leads to job creation and economic growth for the benefit of all Maine people.
The importance of the UMS research mission has never been more clear than through the ongoing pandemic and public health emergency. COVID-19 has changed the world, and public research universities across the globe stepped up to rapidly respond in myriad ways unique to their research missions. In Maine, the research capacity of our public university system, bolstered by decades of MEIF and other investments, has been an important foundation for our ability to help lead Maine’s fight against this global pandemic. Even as our universities successfully transitioned to remote teaching and learning, talented faculty and researchers, staff and students stepped up to serve our state, with university laboratories, centers and facilities pressed into service in new ways to protect public health and solve the problems that Maine’s communities and companies faced in the pandemic.
As 2021 begins, the availability of effective COVID-19 vaccines developed with previously unheard of speed and coordination between government, private enterprise, and the academy is a powerful reminder of the importance of sustained investment in science and research capacity. But even with vaccines rolling out, the pandemic’s financial toll continues to reverberate through our economy. Here in Maine, our public universities will play a central role in accelerating economic recovery and long-term resiliency by expanding the human capital and innovation that will catalyze recovery, growth, and greater prosperity for the people of this state.
Increasing investment in research through public sources like MEIF and federal grants and contracts also creates opportunity to leverage up to $150 million in private grants awarded to the University of Maine System in October 2020 by the Harold Alfond Foundation. Unlocking these additional transformational investments will be critical to realizing our full potential for Maine, including the incredible impact of our research enterprise.
This MEIF report, which details the results of the System’s research efforts over the last fiscal year, demonstrates what advancements are possible from sustained research investment. A few highlights include:
- In FY2020, the state’s $17.35 million MEIF investment was leveraged at a rate of 5.3:1 by our UMS campuses for an additional $92.4 million in federal and private-sector grants and contracts in the seven statutory sectors.
- MEIF funds, and the external grants and contracts they leverage, supported the work of 575 researchers and technicians and 1,221 graduate and undergraduate students.
- These grants and contracts provide funds to purchase major equipment to upgrade and outfit university laboratories.
- Maine’s public universities secured 11 new U.S. patents and 65 associated foreign patents, worked on development projects with large and small businesses and startups, and provided R&D support to 324 companies and individuals.
As required in the statute that created MEIF, included with this FY2020 MEIF report are financial and informational details.
I am available at your convenience to discuss how we use MEIF funding to expand knowledge, research, and economic opportunity in Maine. I would welcome the chance to do so.
The Maine Economic Improvement Fund Fiscal Year 2020