The Maine Technology Institute Board of Directors recently awarded seed grants to 18 entrepreneurs and companies across Maine to advance their pioneering new technologies.

Compost Maine LLC in Union will use its seed grant for a proof of process test to provide data to assist in the design, process control practices, and permitting for its first plant conducting composting services using specific in-vessel composting technology.

In the latest round of grants, nearly $203,000 was awarded by MTI. Entrepreneurs represent technologies in the areas of aquaculture, biotechnology, environmental technology, advanced technologies in forestry and agriculture, information technology and precision manufacturing.

“This round of seed grant awardees represents some very interesting technology innovations,” said Betsy Biemann, president of the Maine Technology Institute, in a news release. “Every two months, we award seed grants to people across Maine who are hard at work on new ideas and new products, some of which will grow into Maine’s next business success stories. Here, we have a front row seat to their beginnings.”

Seed grants of up to $12,500 are offered six times a year to support early-stage research and development activities for new products and services that lead to the market. The next deadline for application is April 15. Entrepreneurs with ideas of innovative technologies are encouraged to apply. Upcoming workshops with information about applying for seed grants, and MTI’s Development Awards, are scheduled for March 31 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the MTI offices at 405 Water St. in Gardiner and April 1 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Abromson Center on the University of Southern Maine campus in Portland. A Seed Grant Webinar is scheduled for April 2 from 2 to 3 p.m. for entrepreneurs unable to attend the Gardiner or Portland workshops. Registration for the workshops or webinar is required; there is no cost. For more information or to register, call 582-4790, ext. 206.

Every seed grant requires at least a one-to-one match that can include cash, salaries, staff time, equipment and in-kind contributions directly attributable to the proposed project. Funded activities include market research, an intellectual property filing, and a feasibility study. For more information, visit mainetechnology.org.

Maine Technology Institute is a publicly financed nonprofit organization created by Maine’s Legislature to stimulate research and development activities leading to the commercialization of new products, processes and services in technology-intensive sectors.

March 2010 Maine Technology Institute seed grant awardees include:

Elco Precision Machining in Lewiston will use its seed grant to manufacture two weed cutter systems to be used in a pilot study installing the systems on twin jet drive boats for field testing purposes.

University of Maine in Orono will use its seed grant as a technology transfer project to design, develop and test an innovative, smart prototype robotic rowing orthosis, the first in a product line of smart robotic sports assistive devices to be commercialized and sold.

Swans Island Blankets in Northport will use its seed grant to develop a prototype to solve technical challenges in scaling up its natural dye house from craft-based to the commercial level.

Oceanwind Technology LLC in North Waterford will use its seed grant to conduct preliminary hydrodynamic analysis of a submerged web foundation, a novel approach to overcoming the challenges of making a cost-competitive deepwater foundation for offshore wind farms.

American Solartechnics LLC in Searsport will use its seed grant to build and test a final prototype for a patented low mass, low cost wood gasifier boiler.

JK Enterprises in Bangor will use its seed grant to build and develop a prototype of a cost-effective “green” heat engine for generating power from low-grade heat without producing greenhouse gases.

Maine Blue Stream Power in Blue Hill will use its seed grant to test blade configurations to optimize power production in its Breus Turbine, a device targeted for in-stream tidal energy production with low environmental impact.

University of Maine in Orono will use a seed grant to advance a commercial prototype and develop a commercialization strategy for a fluorescence technique that rapidly and cost-effectively quantifies individual water contaminants without prior separation steps.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust in Topsham will use its seed grant to fund a feasibility study, determining the optimal approach to create a wild blueberry processing center to bring a community wild blueberry-based value-added processing facility to Washington County and advance sustainability of the region’s small farm economy.

Kennebec Cider Company in Winthrop will use its seed grant to support the development of a commercially viable process for using cryoconcentration to produce ice cider in Maine.

Torrefaction Technologies USA LLC in Portland will use its seed grant to research the markets and optimize its pyrolysis technology to produce activated carbon from renewable woody biomass sources to be used in water and emissions filtration and create energy dense bio-char for renewable biomass co-firing.

RainStorm Inc. in Orono will use a seed grant to rewrite the data storage mechanism and create usability features that will enable sales of FacultyStorm, a web-based software that empowers academic institutions to manage their faculty contact and biographical information, to the community and small college market across the U.S.

Technological Innovations LLC in Sanford will use its seed grant to develop, measure and test a unique energy storage device using the University of Maine’s technology for producing a mesoporus nano-carbon material from woody substrates, integrated with a conventional dielectric.

Flagsuit LLC in Southwest Harbor will use its seed grant to develop and test a new arm and wrist assembly for a manual manipulation vacuum chamber leading to commercialization.

Environetix Technologies Corporation in Orono will use its seed grant to write a business plan and prepare for an MTI Development Award proposal for the commercialization of a robust, high temperature sensor technology.

Atayne in Brunswick will use its seed grant to finalize designs, develop prototypes and wear test an innovative athletic short product designed for high performance and comfort across multiple activities including running, cycling, hiking and yoga.

Biovation LLC in Boothbay will use its seed grant to create and begin implementation of a sales and marketing plan for its polylactic acid non-woven fibers, generated from starch, that are biodegradable and can be used as infection control barriers.