Innovate for Maine Fellows opens applications for students, companies

The University of Maine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation seeks Maine students and Maine companies to participate in the 2020 Innovate for Maine Fellows internship program.

Innovate for Maine Fellows connects the best and brightest Maine college students with the state’s most exciting companies as a way to grow and create jobs in Maine through innovation and entrepreneurship. The program is looking for student fellows to join the 2020 cohort and a variety of for-profit companies with innovative products, services or processes to host them.

Eligible students include those enrolled in undergraduate or graduate degree programs at any college or university in Maine, as well as Maine residents enrolled in degree programs at colleges or universities outside of the state.

Host companies can range in size from small startups to major corporations. Fellows can work full time or part time during the summer, with the possibility of continuing part time during the academic year.

Emphasizing innovation and entrepreneurship, the program prepares students to collaborate with companies on innovation projects that accelerate company growth and provide paid, meaningful, hands-on internship experience. 

Innovation projects can include work on new products or services, process improvements, or efforts to scale company growth. Innovate for Maine Fellows are able to conduct market research, assist with marketing or technical work and run “fail fast, fail cheap” experiments, including prototyping and sales forecasting.

“The goal of the Innovate for Maine Fellows program is to expose students to innovation and entrepreneurship while helping companies complete projects that will help them grow,” says Renee Kelly, assistant vice president for innovation and economic development. “Many of our students end up working at Maine companies after graduation, or even starting their own companies.”

Trained innovation experts guide and mentor both the fellow and the company for the duration of the project. The University of Maine can handle all recruiting, screening, matching, hiring and initial innovation and workplace training for companies that need assistance.

All fellows participate in a one-week innovation boot camp at the start of the program that allows them to bond with each other, network with business leaders and learn skills they’ll need to be successful in their internships. The boot camp brings together students from all majors and backgrounds to form a close-knit cohort that offers a support system for the duration of the program.

Since Innovate for Maine Fellows was established in 2012, student participants have gained exposure to innovative Maine companies and built strong networks that help them find opportunities to stay in Maine. A recent survey of Innovate for Maine Fellows alumni revealed that 70% of respondents were living in Maine and another 10% currently live outside of Maine but plan to return as their careers progress. Nearly 20% of program alumni have started their own companies.

To apply or to learn more about Innovate for Maine Fellows, visit the program website. The application deadline for both students and companies is March 13.