An update on Maine Accelerates Growth (MxG)

Many of you might recall that last fall, the three partners of Blackstone Accelerates Growth (The Maine Technology Institute, University of Maine and the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development) launched the next version of collaboration to grow Maine’s innovation ecosystem, Maine Accelerates Growth.  Well, we’ve been through the first quarter of work together and we’re making progress. Here’s where things stand and what we’re working on for 2016.

Continuing to Build the Structure

Our plan all along has been to spend the first few quarters of the existence of MxG building out the platform.  That work has fallen into three categories of work:  building the guts of the organization; building the organizational partner network; and building out the advisory board.  We’ve made good progress in some of these areas and moderate progress in others.

“Building the guts of the organization” is about the nitty gritty of the organization.  Some of this is the administrative side of the work, but it’s also the systems needed to execute on our mission at MxG, by the way, here’s that mission again:

 The Maine Accelerates Growth Initiative (MxG) accelerates the growth of companies, communities, and talent by funding, creating, and leveraging high impact entrepreneurship and innovation programs and events through a collaborative and complementary network of organizations and individuals propelling prosperity across Maine.  We study emerging best practices to continuously improve our approach to creating an extraordinary future for Maine.

 Some of this is about purchasing systems, disbursement guidelines, donor strategies and even what the structure and frequency of our meetings look like.  While this might seem boring, this is at the core of how we facilitate the coop-tition model.

One of the things that I’m really excited about is what we’ve been doing with our schedule of calls and meetings. Once a month, we get all of the organizational partners together on the phone and in-person at MTI in Brunswick to do a deep dive on elements of the work.  But we’re using the other three Tuesdays of the month to host efficient calls about different elements of collaboration.

  • On the first Tuesday of the month, we ask all of the Organizational Partners to tell others on the call what the events are that are coming up in their sphere for the next 30-45 days. This allows each of the partners to know what others are doing and to get a sense of the work that each of them are doing.
  • On the third Tuesday of the month, we’re doing donor development calls. This allows Organizational Partners to coordinate how they are approaching donors and sponsors to the ecosystem. It’s basically an opportunity to make sure we’re not stepping all over each other.
  • Finally, on the last Tuesday of the month, we’ve asked one of the Organizational Partners to present to the rest of the network about what they’re working on. It’s part showcase, part feedback session, part brainstorm, and frankly, part support group. This meeting allows for the free flow of ideas and suggestions – it a system demonstration of the network being invested in each other’s success.

Organizational Partner Network

We’re really excited about the response that we’ve had to this effort so far.  In addition to the three founding organizations of MxG, we’ve added eight more:

  • Maine Venture Fund,
  • Thomas College,
  • Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council,
  • The Target Technology Corporation,
  • Engine (Biddeford),
  • Our Katahdin,
  • Maine Startup & Create Week, and
  • Midcoast Magnet.

And we are in discussions with even more.  This is the core of MxG.  It is the collaborative energy of this group and those that join that powers the work of MxG.

Measuring the Ecosystem

One of the key goals of MxG is to facilitate the creation of an on-going group of metrics to measure the growth of Maine’s innovation and startup ecosystem.  We’ve been spending a lot of time digging through suggested metrics from the Kauffman Foundation (the #1 foundation focused on entrepreneurship) and we’re incorporating a few others that we used during Blackstone Accelerates Growth.  One of the exciting aspects of this effort is our discussion with the Maine Development Foundation and their Measures of Growth report.  The conversation is on-going but we’re excited about the possibility of collaborating with MDF over a longer period of time on ecosystem metrics which might then be included in MDF’s widely read report.

Building the Donor Base

We continue to build on the amazing founding commitment of the Maine Technology Institute and other donors.  This spring we are preparing to approach a number of foundations, both Maine-based and national, to support the effort.  In addition, a number of Organizational Partners are already working with donors and urging them to give through the MxG Fund at the Maine Community Foundation.

In the next blog post, I’ll be talking about what we have in-store for MxG in 2016.  And if you have more questions that you want to ask us, email me at

Jess Knox

About Jess Knox

Born in Waterville, Jess Knox is a former high-ranking U.S. Small Business Administration official in Washington. Now living in Southern Maine, he is passionate about growing prosperity via entrepreneurship, innovation and startups in Maine. These days he helps companies pursue growth through his firm Olympico Strategies as a consultant and movement-maker. He also co-founded Maine Startup & Create Week