Dirigo Labs is soliciting applications from mentors and startups alike to join its inaugural cohort. With a forward-focused mission of fostering an entrepreneurial and innovation hub, Dirigo Labs will utilize regional assets to encourage job creation and business expansion and retention within central Maine and the Kennebec Valley region.

The 12-week accelerator program will engage entrepreneurs with a curated curriculum of startup tools, access to a diverse local and national mentor network, and funding opportunities to rapidly grow and scale operations. Particularly unique, and illustrating the Dirigo Labs’ public-private sector lens, the accelerator program will also showcase avenues on attracting sponsored research, public-private sectors grants, and economic incentives while providing valuable business development opportunities for years to come. Waterville is nestled in an asset-rich community with strong academic institutions and is fortified by an abundance of support from area professionals and educators.

“An innovation hub is built with the buy-in of everyone in the community. Our early mentor and startup applicants indicate that we’re going to have an amazing inaugural cohort,” said Emalee Couture, growth manager of Dirigo Labs. “We’re excited to fill the remaining cohort spots with equally impressive startups and we’d welcome community members’ involvement as mentors, speakers, coworking members, supporters, and participants in our events.”

The accelerator’s framework will provide guidance on a wide range of initiatives, catering to a high demand for advanced startups and increase the quantity of skilled labor in order to maximize product launch capability. Leveraging a local, statewide, and national mentor pool, Dirigo Labs startups will have access to a curated temporary board of advisors according to the needs of each company. Located in the historic Hathaway Creative Center and Bricks Coworking and Innovation Space, the accelerator will assist in transitioning cohorts of eligible applicants into matured industries, such as biotechnology, information technology, and health care.

“The accelerator presents a tremendous opportunity to showcase the central Maine region and the significant resources available to startup companies,” Susan Ruhlin, Dirigo Labs managing director, said. “When you bring together entrepreneurs, mentors, subject matter experts, and the investment community, the byproduct is the spark that builds a critical mass of new companies.”

The inaugural cohort will convene its first sessions in March. Startups and potential mentors who are interested in learning more about Dirigo Labs and submitting an application can visit http://www.dirigolabs.org.

Dirigo Labs, a regional startup accelerator, will galvanize mid-Maine’s unique diversity of academic institutions and tech firms to harness the entrepreneurship and digital skills of our students, graduates, academic faculty, and business owners to power a thriving rural economy. Dirigo Labs operates under Central Maine Growth Council, and is pleased to partner with several resource partners, venture funding groups, and academic institutions, not limited to Center on Rural Innovation, Bricks Coworking and Innovation Space, Colby College, Thomas College, Kennebec Valley Community College, Maine Venture Fund, and the Maine Angels.