The Sappi paper mill in Westbrook, pictured on Sept. 21, 2021. The company is part of a consortium designated this week as a federal "tech hub." Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

A Maine government and business consortium has been awarded the federal designation of “tech hub” for the development of the state’s forest bioproducts sector.

The entity recognized by the Biden-Harris administration is called Forest Bioproducts Advanced Manufacturing Tech Hub. It is a partnership of the Maine Technology Institute, the state of Maine and more than 30 Maine industries, businesses and institutions of higher education, including the University of Maine, the Roux Institute, the Maine Community College System, Sappi, IDEXX, Thornton Tomasetti, FOR/Maine, the AFL-CIO, the Maine Venture Fund and more.

The Forest Bioproducts Tech Hub will, according to a press release from Gov. Mills’ office, “accelerate research and development of natural polymers and other wood fiber bioproducts that can sequester carbon and replace plastics and toxic chemicals, while bolstering ‘Made in America’ supply chain goals.”

A list of benefits includes better access or preferential consideration for certain federal funding opportunities and various forms of business assistance.

The Maine consortium was one of 31 recipients of the “tech hub” designation, chosen from 198 applicants.

The federal designation will allow the consortium to apply for the next phase of the Tech Hubs Program that will invest $40-$70 million in each of five to 10 designated hubs.

Ethan Andrews is the night editor. He was formerly the managing editor at The Free Press and worked as a reporter for The Republican Journal and Pen Bay Pilot.