Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Augusta, ME

Augusta, ME

Augusta is a small city on the Kennebec River with big potential for incoming entrepreneurs.

Augusta, ME, is the state’s capital. Augusta is the ninth-largest city in Maine and the third-smallest US capital city by population. Despite its diminutive size, however, the city on the banks of the Kennebec River is well-situated to foster successful entrepreneurship. While small, the state of Maine is home to a number of highly-regarded cities for business; four cities in the state appeared on WalletHub’s 2019 list of the best small cities to start a business, with nearby Lewiston coming in at 643rd overall.

In another 2019 WalletHub article, Maine ranked 23rd on a list of the best states to start a business, with rankings of 18th and 14th in the “Business Environment” and “Business Costs” categories, respectively. The same list also listed Maine as having the second-cheapest office spaces in the nation. Finally, Maine ranked well in several of the Kauffman Foundation’s 2019 Indicators of Entrepreneurship: the Pine Street State finished 11th overall in the “rate of new entrepreneurs” and 14th in “opportunity share of new entrepreneurs,” coming in with the tenth-highest rating in the KESE Index, the company’s ranking of entrepreneurship activity in each state.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Augusta’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Just down the road in Waterville, the Central Maine Programmers Group is designed to support experienced and aspiring programmers alike through regular meetings.

Hack Portland is a meetup group that hosts regular events supporting technology tinkerers, entrepreneurs and innovators in Portland and the state as a whole.

Locate in Portland, the Maine Real Estate Investing Meetup works to help real estate investors throughout the entire state.

Professionals in their 20s and 30s can join the Waterville Young Professionals meetup group, which is designed to support personal and professional development among its members.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

The Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce hosts a variety of regular events, including networking opportunities, awards ceremonies and an annual business expo.

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce, located in Augusta, hosts an annual dinner celebrating and recognizing business leaders in the area.

Startup Maine is an annual conference held in Portland that celebrates and supports the entrepreneurship and innovation happening throughout the state.


Startup Competitions:

Gorham Savings Bank runs an annual competition that rewards the best businesses and startups based throughout the state of Maine, as well as a competition for middle schoolers.

Greenlight Maine is a statewide competition between entrepreneurs that rewards cash prizes and business financing to the winners of its regular and collegiate challenges.

The University of Maine’s flagship campus in Orono has held an annual business plan competition for students since 2011.


Co-working Spaces:

Located in downtown Waterville, Bricks is a co-working space that offers a wide variety of amenities to its members, including 24.7 access, free coffee and tea and gym access.

LoopNet, a website that lists office space available for rent or lease in cities across the country, has nine available listings in the city of Augusta.

Munka Coworking, named for the Hungarian word for “work,” is a co-working space located in the downtown of nearby Lewiston.



The Maine State Library in Augusta is home to the Unlimited Possibilities Makerspace, a makerspace with a range of equipment and design programs.

The University of Maine at Augusta’s Collaboratory is a small makerspace for the school’s students, faculty and staff that provides a few pieces of maker technology.

The University of Maine’s Orono campus has a hackerspace with a wide array of tools, equipment and materials available to students, faculty and staff.



The Maine Small Business Development Center runs programs and workshops to support small business throughout the state, including in Augusta.

New Ventures Maine is a program that helps support small business and entrepreneurship in Maine by hosting free classes and workshops for adults.

The University of Maine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation offers incubation services to students as well as free business coaching and support to any Maine-based businesses.

The UpStart Center for Entrepreneurship is a 20,000-square foot facility that provides office space and incubation services for Maine businesses.



Maine Accelerates Growth is a program that works to accelerate Maine-based businesses through funding and other support services.

The Maine Center for Entrepreneurs runs several accelerator programs, including general program Top Gun, food-based accelerator Cultivator and more.

In addition to incubation services, UpStart Maine sponsors a variety of accelerator and support programs throughout the state, including the Scratchpad Accelerator.



Colby College down the road in Waterville provides funding, advising and other support opportunities for entrepreneurial-minded students.

Students at Thomas College in Waterville can earn a bachelor degree in Entrepreneurship and Small Business through the school’s Harold Alfond Institute for Business Innovation.

Down the road in Orono, the University of Maine provides a wide variety of entrepreneurial resources and support for students and entrepreneurs in general.

The University of Maine at Augusta’s Business Administration program includes classes in management and entrepreneurship.


Angel Groups/VCs:

The city of Augusta offers a variety of business assistance and funding services through several small business grant and loan programs.

Maine Angels is a group of angel investors that invests in promising startups throughout the East Coast, with a strong emphasis on New England as a whole and Maine specifically.

The Maine Venture Fund invests in and provides other support to startups and small businesses throughout the entire state.

Located in Portland, North Atlantic Capital is a company that invests between $5-10 million in high-growth tech-based startups in the region.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Kennebec Journal, central Maine’s daily newsletter, offers a wide variety of newsletters focusing on different aspects of the area.

The Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce offers regular newsletters covering business news and events in Augusta and the surrounding area.

Mainebiz, a publication covering business news throughout the state, offers a variety of different newsletters to those interested.


Are you familiar with the entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Augusta, ME not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

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Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.