The Roux Institute Start Summit brings innovators together

A testament to the power of collaboration and innovation within coastal communities

Jeff Frank, Senior Community Development Officer
Posted 2023-05-11

At the end of April, the Roux Institute and Main Street Rockland brought together innovators, business leaders, and community members from the midcoast to develop solutions to real-world challenges facing these communities. The event was a resounding success, generating creative and profitable solutions while forging new connections between participants.

The Start Summit took place over two days and featured a wide range of speakers, panel discussions, and one-on-one guidance from innovation experts. It kicked off with a panel of successful local entrepreneurs moderated by Hannah Pingree, Director at the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation & the Future. This discussion helped both frame the challenges participants would be attempting to solve as well as discuss the ways panel members routinely innovate within their business to achieve growth.

“As we look to the future, we at the Island Institute see incredible opportunity for growth and innovation for businesses big and small on the coast of Maine,” said Dr. Kim Hamilton, President of the Island Institute. “From those fishing and farming on the water to developing new technologies, our region is an ideal place for innovation and, of course, an ideal place to call home.” Dr. Hamilton served as a judge reviewing business proposals alongside Brian Whitney, President of the Maine Technology Institute, and Elisa O’Donnell, Head of Partnerships & Innovation at the Cambridge Innovation Center.

A central focus of the summit was the challenge of maintaining sustainable and resilient coastal economies in the face of workforce and housing shortages. Participants created business proposals ranging from methods to develop new affordable housing options for seasonal workers to creative ways to attract business to our working coast.

With rising sea levels and ocean temperatures impacting coastal and island communities, participants also developed business plans to generate clean energy for the working waterfront through tidal and solar power. By collaborating openly and receiving guidance from entrepreneurship experts throughout the day, the summit demonstrated just how quickly an idea can become a business with open minds and a passion for solving important problems.

The Roux Institute Start Summit on Innovation in Coastal Communities was truly a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation within our island and coastal communities. By bringing together diverse perspectives and expertise, the summit generated potential solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing Maine’s coast. It also provided a forum for forming new connections and partnerships, ensuring that the spirit of innovation and collaboration will continue to thrive well into the future.