The Portland Gateway connects, convenes and converges

Established in Portland by the University of Maine to provide a one-stop point of access to the vast array of innovative research, education and outreach resources, programs and services at the state’s research university, the Portland Gateway is now a flourishing place with seemingly limitless possibilities. 

In just over two years since it was founded, the Portland Gateway has become a hub of activity. 

In February the Portland Gateway moved into 300 Fore Street, a modern and bright structure just a stone’s throw from the city’s bustling waterfront. Rising among the cobblestone streets and historic landmarks of the Old Port Historic District in Portland, the building is also home to the University of Maine School of Law, the Graduate School of Business, the UMaine Foundation branch in southern Maine, and the Maine Center.

The move has provided a unique space for connecting, convening and converging. “Very rarely is there an opportunity to bring together so many interdisciplinary fields such as business, law, policy and research in the biggest population hub of the state, and highly connected to the research powerhouse of our R1 institution,“ explains Alice “Pips” Veazey, the director of the Portland Gateway. 

The initiative provides partnership opportunities to advance business or corporate needs, stimulate economic development, and advance professional careers in connection with the UMaine research enterprise across the state. Fulfilling this mission, the Portland Gateway hosts special events, such as the one held in May which brought together members from industry and academia to talk about the future of the semiconductor sector and develop a better awareness of new and emerging opportunities in this field. Similarly, the Gateway led a day-long event In June to co-create a vision for the future of applied artificial intelligence in Maine with leaders from industry, business and academic institutions.

Veazey says this kind of interdisciplinary, team-based approach to research is essential, in part because more granting institutions expect broad and inclusive methodologies to be applied to problem-solving. Co-creating solutions with communities becomes an essential key to unlocking this kind of effort. “The University of Maine is well connected and nimble enough that it can bring together people and identify resources across the state to support the kind of use-inspired research that is so relevant today,” she says. 

Last September the initiative welcomed Anne Heberger Marino as Associate Director. With a background in research facilitation, team coaching and multi-stakeholder systems change, Heberger Marino is a perfect fit for the Portland Gateway. 

Together, Veazey and Heberger Marino help educators, scientists, students, decision-makers and community partners build the teams needed to achieve results, whether the goal is to increase research competitiveness, promote economic development or expand workforce programs. 

They are now offering regularly scheduled Collaboration Clinics, providing faculty with access to over 30 years of combined experience facilitating interdisciplinary research and team science collaboration. “We wanted UMaine faculty to have easy access to personalized resources, advice, and tools that help them contribute as effectively as possible on team-based research projects,” says Heberger Marino. 

More exciting partnerships are on the horizon, including a new Interdisciplinary Problem-Solving Partnership (IP-SP) that begins with the launch of a graduate course designed to meet the demands of people in Maine who are facing complex problems today. In collaboration with faculty from science, business, law, policy and research, the course offers rigorous multi-method, inter- and trans-disciplinary, problem-oriented experiential learning grounded in a team approach. 

“There is a shift towards co-creating innovative, integrated offerings with people who deeply understand the systems in which we operate,” Heberger Marino explains. “What happens in Maine and how we approach challenges can be translated to the rest of the world. Local relevance and global impact is not just an aspiration. It’s happening.”

Veazey is very excited about the future and believes firmly in the power of team science to bring about positive change. She asks, “Where might we go if we pooled our talents and our ideas and our aspirations to co-create our future?” 

For more information about the Portland Gateway email

Written by Tilan Copson