The University of Southern Maine, ecomaine, the City of Portland’s Office of Sustainability, Hannaford Supermarkets, the Manufacturers Association of Maine, the Maine Technology Institute, and the Greater Portland Council of Governments, in partnership with the Roux Institute at Northeastern University announce their upcoming Start Summit: From Waste to Prototype – a fun, engaging event to be held on March 23 & 24 that offers community members the opportunity to work innovatively with a team to turn a waste material into a value-added product and the chance to receive a cash prize.

“Sustainability is critically important to innovation and the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Anna Ackerman, the Institute’s Entrepreneurship Programming Manager. “There are so many opportunities in the emerging field of sustainable materials and technology; pursuing marketable prototypes from waste materials is a long-term win environmentally and from a market perspective.”

The event kicks off at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 23 at the University of Southern Maine (University Events Room) with a welcome and networking event, panel discussion, and team formation and ideation. The full-day event will take place on Friday, March 24th beginning at 9 a.m. in the University of Southern Maine’s Maker Innovation Studio.

Registration is required to participate, but the event is free and open to the public for anyone interested in creating a prototype. The winning design will win the grand cash prize of $3,000; the runners up will receive $2,000. “We are so pleased to be part of this event with these great partners,” said Matt Grondin, ecomaine’s Director of Communications & Public Affairs. “At ecomaine, we are always looking at new ways to think of waste as resources, and the Start Summit will task Maine innovators to providing even more value to the waste stream.”

At the 2023 Start Summit, Hannaford Supermarkets will present participants with three waste products. Teams will choose a waste product to examine and test. The groups then will be tasked with developing a value-added product or prototype with the waste material over the course of the next day. George Parmenter, Hannaford health and sustainability brand lead added, “Hannaford is taking action now to help build a better, greener future. The Start Summit represents an opportunity for us to be a part of recovering waste in renewable, useful ways – that’s something that’s very exciting to think about.”

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