It is the start of a new year, so we at MVF wanted to reflect back on the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Maine in 2018. In their annual “State of the Ecosystem” report, Maine Accelerates Growth sought to measure and analyze four indicators for entrepreneurial ecosystem vibrancy in Maine as defined by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

The first indicator, Density, measures new and young firms per 1,000 people in the state. The second, Fluidity, measures population flux within high growth firms. The third indicator, Diversity, measures diversity within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. And Connectivity, the final indicator measures the connectivity within the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The data show some distinct challenges for Maine. To read the full report click here.

Although Maine does not perform as well as we would like on the four indicators, we believe with strategic planning and execution of a few key initiatives, our entrepreneurial ecosystem can thrive. Below are some highlights of Maine Venture Fund’s current and future activities that are aimed at improving Maine’s entrepreneurial indicators.

Indicator 1: Density

Attract capital to early stage investing from both in and out-of-state. In 2019, MVF will be working with FAME and other ecosystem partners to enhance the Maine Seed Capital Tax Credit program to further its impact to attract both in an out-of-state capital to Maine companies. The goal is to increase the availability of credits to be used across more companies in a more efficient and predictable manner.

Indicator 2: Fluidity 

Create programs and platforms that celebrate the interconnectivity of ventures, founders, and talent-focused growth. MVF supports connectivity of its portfolio companies through its annual Portfolio Company Recognition Dinner and CEO roundtable discussions. We are looking forward to continuing that tradition in 2019. In addition, you may have noticed we’ve been more active on Facebook and LinkedIn. Please connect with us there and send along press releases and job postings so we can help you get the word out! Also if you’re currently an economic development professional working with Maine companies feel free to give us a call to learn more or introduce us to a company of interest.

Indicator 3: Diversity 

Build programs and supports that intentionally diversify participants. A growing mission of MVF is to help portfolio companies establish strong governance and management policies. MVF also helps promote and recruit board members for its portfolio companies that represent a diversity of experience, race, and gender.

Indicator 4: Connectivity 

Increase the number and quality of investors who open their networks to multiple Maine-based startups and invest in multiple Maine companies. MVF plans to continue its participation with the Angel Capital Association which provides opportunities to introduce New England-based angel groups to Maine companies. In the Fall 2018 at the New England ACA meeting and deal syndication event, 3 of the 10 companies presenting to investors were from Maine. Several of the angel groups subsequently asked for the Maine companies to present to their members and have made or are are considering making investments. Building on these relationships will continue to open more doors for Maine businesses to attract capital from outside of the state.

Maine still has a lot of work to do for our State to have a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, but initiatives to attract out-of-state capital and programs that support the interconnectivity between startups will help push us as a state in the right direction. It is also vital that Maine promotes diversity within the ecosystem and provides more funding opportunities for more companies.

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