Maine Sea Grant has launched Buoy Maine, a new pitch competition to fund innovative projects and ideas to help coastal businesses address the challenges of operating during the COVID-19 pandemic. The competition consists of two phases: a short, written proposal and a five-minute verbal pitch, and concludes with a virtual public celebration.

"We continue to be inspired by the creativity and resourcefulness Maine's coastal businesses have already shown as declines in tourism, shifting markets, and other challenges continue to impact the way they operate,” said Gayle Zydlewski, the director of Maine Sea Grant.

“These funds are meant to celebrate that tradition of ingenuity and provide the resources to help transformative ideas become reality.”

Businesses and nonprofits are invited to submit proposals for up to $15,000 to implement new ideas or support existing projects. Applicants who advance to the second phase of the competition will pitch to a panel of judges in October. Pitches that receive funding will be made public after the pitch event.

Maine Sea Grant is looking for collaborations from the diverse sectors connected to Maine’s marine and coastal communities, including seafood, tourism, new products or markets, technology and more, and is seeking ideas and innovations with broader impacts and benefits. Applications are due Sept. 14.

For instructions on how to apply, visit seagrant.umaine.edu.

Funding for the awards comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce as part of a 2020 COVID-19 Rapid Response effort, Maine Technology Institute, Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center and Maine Community Foundation.

Maine Sea Grant is a federal-state partnership program based at the University of Maine. Maine Sea Grant is part of a network of 34 Sea Grant programs across the nation’s coastal and Great Lakes states and territories.