Innovate for Maine program seeks growing companies, interns

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The University of Maine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation is seeking Maine companies to host interns from the Innovate for Maine Fellows 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 a variety of high-growth, for-profit companies with a focus on innovation.

Host companies can range in size from small startups to major corporations. Interns 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 projects to scale company growth. Innovate for Maine interns are able to conduct market research, write marketing messages and innovation descriptions, assist with technical work and run “fail fast, fail cheap” experiments, such prototyping and sales forecasting.

“There are a number of Maine companies developing innovative products, services and systems that are eager for talented students who understand the innovation process,” said Renee Kelly, assistant vice president for innovation and economic development. “By matching students trained in a systematic approach to innovation with these companies, we hope to help the companies grow while helping Maine students see that there are great opportunities to work and stay in Maine after they graduate.”

Trained innovation experts guide and mentor both the fellow and the company for the duration of the project. The University of Maine handles all recruiting, screening, matching, hiring, and initial innovation and workplace training. As part of Maine Accelerates Growth (MxG), Innovate for Maine assists companies with matching funds, according to company size, to support the cost.

MxG is an initiative to create jobs and economic development in Maine through entrepreneurship and growth. It works with partners to create statewide programs with coordinated, focused activities to accelerate companies, connections and the next generation of Maine entrepreneurs.

“By handling all these administrative pieces, companies are able to easily engage an intern without having to worry about challenges that can sometimes accompany the hiring process,” said Angela McCue, Foster Center innovation outreach manager.

“Through the support of organizations like MxG, the program is able to offer invaluable support to smaller companies that would not be able to afford this assistance otherwise,” McCue says. “For the large companies that do not qualify for a subsidy, they also benefit by receiving a trained and vetted intern who is ready to dive in and tackle the tasks at hand. It’s really a win-win for everyone involved.”

The Innovate for Maine program received the Maine Development Foundation’s 2013 Champion of Attraction, Retention and Engagement Award for its work to attract and retain talent for Maine’s workforce.

The application deadline for companies is March 24; the application for interns is March 20.

For more information and applications for the Innovate for Maine program: umaine.edu/innovation

For more information about Maine Accelerates Growth: maineacceleratesgrowth.com