New global initiative launched in Maine to offer financial and development support to bio-based projects

The US state of Maine has launched a new initiative called the Maine Born Global Challenge to help support and finance bio-based projects.

The initiative covers a wide range of sectors including biomass handling and biofuels.

Under the scheme, companies of complementary technologies will be grouped into project teams, assigned to specific power plant locations, given funding for business/implementation plans and provided with investment/project financing for project execution.

The Maine Born Global Challenge aims to source proven technologies and forward-thinking strategic partners that are brought to create a sustainable, closed-loop circular economy to rejuvenate the rural areas with the shuttered paper and pulp plants as well as existing biomass to energy plants.

The State of Maine has committed resources from the Department of Economic & Community Development, the Department of Agriculture and Forestry and the Department of Environmental Protection to support the full implementation of these projects in a timely and efficient manner.

The initiative is broken down into four distinct phases, which include the following:

  • Phase One: Pre-qualification (ends mid-January 2017)
  • Phase Two: Team organisation (March 2017)
  • Phase Three: Project planning (May 2017)
  • Phase Four: Project execution (2017-2019)

According to Maine Born Global Challenge organisers, the challenge is the first of its kind, as it “truly” focuses on the commercialisation of innovation.

In a statement, its organisers said: “The portfolio of project sites can be considered ‘living labs’, allowing applicants to expedite the process of pilot to demonstration to full commercialisation. True commercialisation requires established markets obtaining long-term offtake agreements for productions, and the ability to scale resources, transportation logistics and qualified labour.

“The state of Maine has a unique combination of factors such as sustainable biomass supply, existing sites with operating biomass-to-energy plants, operating woodyards and transportation on major interstates and rail. These factors combined with the fact that sponsor owners already have revenue-producing energy plants in place is a major incentive to investors sensitive to market risk.

“The federal loan programmes that buffer innovation risk levers unbankable projects to become financially feasible.”

Synthesis Venture Fund Partners will be directing the Maine Born Global Challenge by establishing long-term partnerships with corporations and entrepreneurs who share their vision for innovation and value creation.

The company represents a group of developers in renewable energy developing a portfolio of projects with the state of Maine.  Synthesis will be matching technologies to specific projects.

This story was written by Liz Gyekye, editor of Biofuels International.

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