Innovation Fund


The MaineHealth Innovation Center has established the MaineHealth Innovation Fund as an internal funding mechanism to foster and accelerate innovation within MaineHealth. Innovations are defined as new care team models, novel processes or services, or new products to address unmet care needs. The Innovation Fund will advance the MaineHealth vision of working together so our communities are the healthiest in America by empowering all of our colleagues to continually seek novel solutions to the real problems that our patients and communities face.

Two funding levels are available:

The Ignite Fund provides seed capital to help advance innovations. This investment of up to $20,000 can help innovators understand user pain points, build a prototype or test an assumption. Several $20,000 investments will be made this funding cycle.

The Bonfire Fund aims to advance the mission of MaineHealth by providing one $100,000 investment for an innovative solution. The goal of this investment is to support an advanced novel solution related to improving the lives of our care team and community members to a point where additional external or institutional funding opportunities can be explored from collaborators like Maine Technology Institute, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), the NIH DRIVEN Grant or from department or service line investments.

The Innovation Fund is an essential component of the Innovation Center’s comprehensive approach to research, innovation, education, clinical development, and commercialization. The entrepreneurial activity of MaineHealth faculty, staff, and students will be significantly enhanced through a dedicated source of funding intended to bridge the gap between grant-funded basic research, emerging clinical ideas, and commercialization of technologies.

General Innovation Fund Review Process

The MaineHealth Innovation Fund applications are evaluated by a multi-disciplinary group of reviewers from across the MaineHealth system and its strategic partners.

The general process for the Innovation Fund review cycle is:

  • Applications submitted
  • Informational Interviews (Bonfire Fund only)
  • 1st Round Review
  • Live presentations at “Pitch Day”
  • 2nd Round Review
  • Final funding decisions are approved


Fall 2021 Innovation Fund Applications Due:
September 23, 2021 at 12pm noon

Ignite Fund

Apply Online

Bonfire Fund

Apply Online
Dr. Michael Ferguson demonstrating neonatal resuscitation simulation training

Fall 2020 Ignite Fund recipient Dr. Michael Ferguson demonstrating neonatal resuscitation simulation training.



You are not able to reimburse a MaineHealth care team member for their time spent on the project to supplement their home department. Fund can be used to pay for outside consulting services.

That is why the Innovation team is here! We will work with you and your team to source content area experts and leverage our networks and the networks of our MaineHealth colleagues in order to get the right people in the right room to brainstorm around your idea.

It would be ideal to see Innovation Fund projects moving along a commercial pathway, meaning your idea or device can be scaled up to be shared with the MaineHealth system or beyond. However, $20,000 may not be enough to propel projects to commercialization. The intent is for the Ignite Fund process to help innovators prepare to apply for additional external funding from partners like Maine Angels or Maine Center for Entrepreneurship, if that is desired. Projects may also explore securing a patent for any devices being developed, and the MaineHealth Innovation team can assist with that process, as well.

The Innovation team is happy to continue to support some projects as they mature and expand to be used in other areas. This support may look like connections to industry partners, assistance with additional external grant applications or facilitation of a deep dive brainstorming session or customer discovery study. The team will also leverage the connections around the MaineHealth system to remove barriers to your projects success.

Yes, generally. Customer discovery is an important part of determining the need and value of the proposed projects. There are often trainings and conferences, both locally and nationally, that will provide an opportunity to learn about entrepreneurial and market trends, and to directly interact with customers or other industry experts. Any conference costs should be included in the project budget submitted with the application. 

All applicants are encouraged to submit their projects for consideration, even if they are unsure of how to operationalize or commercialize this idea. We encourage recipients to work with us to appropriately source additional system-wide and community resources to help bring your ideas to life as needed.

Funds will be distributed to recipients by the MaineHealth employee reimbursement process or by direct payments to vendors, depending on the needs of your project. Ignite Fund recipients may be expected to pay for any costs associated with their project up front, and then submit receipts for reimbursement to the Innovation staff on the 15th of each month in order for reimbursement checks to be mailed within 2-3 weeks of submission date. Alternatively, project invoices sent to the Ignite Fund recipient should also be forwarded to the MaineHealth Innovation team so the invoice can be paid directly from the distributed Ignite funds. If there are any questions or concerns about this process, the Innovation team will work with the project team on an individual basis to determine an appropriate alternative plan, if needed.



Sara Cox, CNRN –  Neuroscience Patient Navigator, MMC
Project: Johnny Jumper

Jeffrey Halter, MD – Pediatric Surgeon, MMC
Project: Gastrocutaneous Closure Device

Samir Haydar, DO – Emergency Physician, MMC
Project: navigatER

Jeremy Lott, MD – Resident, MMC
Project: Hydraulic Manifold for the Distribution of Contrast, Saline and Other Medias

Elizabeth Hamilton, MD – Resident, MMC
Kaitlyn Main, MD – Resident, MMC
Samir Haydar, DO –  Emergency Physician, MMC
Project: Collapsible Aerosolized Particle Enclosure (CAPE)


Rob Ecker, MD – Neurosurgeon
Jeffrey Florman, MD – Neurologist
Mohsen Shahinpoor, PhD – Mechanical Engineer
Project: Neurological Robotic Clot Retriever

Deb Flint – Respiratory Therapist
Project: Cloth Headband for O2

Kerri Barton, MPH – Rural Research Navigator
Brian Nolan, MD – Physician
Shane Kirkegaard, MD  – Resident
Project: Rural Diabetic Retinopathy Screening with Artificial Intelligence

Mary Ottolini, MD, MEd, MPH – Chair of Pediatrics
Michael Ferguson, MD – Pediatrician
Project: Neonatal Resuscitation Training Simulation with Augmented Reality

Suzanne Wendelken, MD – Resident
Project: Scorpion Bag Mask Ventilation Device