We are thrilled to announce the inaugural IGNITE Arts Business Incubator Cohort: GEM City, Oterra Designs, Biddeford Community Gardens, Maine Music Collectivo, Forging Commons, and The Circular.

These six arts businesses are now involved in an eight week Business Model Canvas development program with the support of our program delivery partners, UMaine Foster Center for Innovation, the Small Business Administration, Heart of Biddeford, and others from March – June 2022.

By the end of this year, Engine’s IGNITE program will drive an estimated $1mil in economic activity in our community. So far more than $125,000 of technical, creative, consulting, and financial support has been leveraged to support and develop these arts businesses in the pilot year of this program. Data from the Arts & Economic Prosperity Study by Americans for the Arts shows that for every $1 invested in arts and culture organizations in Maine, 8 times that is returned right into the local economy, In addition to supporting our small businesses, retailers and restaurants, for every $1 spent by arts and cultural nonprofits, we see a third of that returned as revenue to local governments. This economic impact is in addition to jobs created and related increases in household income.

In addition to increased spending for our local businesses and revenues for the city, we know that IGNITE contributes significantly to the revitalized fabric of Biddeford’s local economy.

Stay tuned for their stories, community collaborations, and collective impact this cohort is sparking through IGNITE from now through the culmination of the program in the fall of this year!


Engine is piloting a competitive nine-month program for creative entrepreneurs called IGNITE. We designed IGNITE as an arts business incubator program that supports makers, manufacturers, artists, and creative service providers. This year’s program is running February through October 2022.


In 2018, Engine was awarded a $25,000 EDA grant to complete a feasibility study for IGNITE. Serving entrepreneurs who are makers and creators, IGNITE will provide focused support not already present in Maine’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, while leveraging existing resources and new partnerships. IGNITE will build community among its members and with the broader Biddeford and Southern Maine creative community by offering programming in design thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship. Related youth entrepreneurship programs will connect IGNITE participants with the broader community Engine serves. 

Camoin 310 concluded that IGNITE is a feasible project, and estimated that the economic impact of this project would be 34 total jobs, over $1.3 million in earnings, and nearly $4.4 million in sales in York County, annually.


UMAINE OFFICE OF INNOVATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: The team at the UMaine Foster Center for Innovation will leverage their existing resources and expertise to help operate the program at a lower cost and to develop synergies with UMaine and our other partner incubators and programs with the following support:

  • Business coaching
  • Non-coaching activities to include connections to mentors, resources, and follow on funding opportunities.
  • Workshops and resources delivered by content experts

THINKTANK BIDDEFORD: From startup attorneys, corporate law, branding, web development, finance, and creative services, members of Biddeford’s first co-working space can offer mentorship support. 

“Maine’s arts and cultural sector is our best weapon for building a 21st century economy — one that retains young people and attracts creatives, innovators, and investment to our state. The arts have played an active role in transforming many of our formerly manufacturing-based, rural towns into thriving cultural destinations. Additional investment in Maine arts and culture is a win-win for all Maine citizens.”

– Maine arts commission president in 2018 julie richards
Artists working in an art studio
Two adjoining studios at Engine’s Makerspace at 163 Main St, Biddeford


Applicants selected for the IGNITE 2022 Cohort will receive up to $5000 in support for your idea. IGNITE’s program team and Engine’s network will also leverage connections in the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem to provide mentoring, networking opportunities and featured roles among Engine’s programming. Additional benefits include:

IGNITE Maine Arts Entrepreneurship Workshops: The 2022 IGNITE cohort will participate in a business development funding course convened by Engine and with collaborators such as the University of Maine’s Foster Innovation Center, the Small Business Association, SCORE, and other partners.

Production Space/ Rental Offsets: IGNITE’s selected participants will be offered the option to occupy studio space at Engine’s 163 Main St. location in downtown Biddeford during the program.

Fringe Fest and Public Engagement. In addition to leadership opportunities among Engine’s network of studio artists, and seasonal open studios, the IGNITE 2022 Cohort will be supported to develop a part of their vision in the form of an installation, performance, or other appropriate medium for Engine’s 2022 ArtWalk & Fringe Fest events —a downtown Biddeford street festival scheduled for August 19th. 


We are currently delivering on our pilot year of this program, and look forward to harvesting the many learnings to launch a successful second year of this important Arts Business Incubator program for Maine.

We are happy to connect interested creative entreprenuers to our resources in the meantime. Stay tuned for details on open to the public programs to nurture arts businesses soon.

Application questions and general inquires should be directed to Engine’s Executive Director, Jess Muise at

IGNITE has genersouly been supported by:

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