BRUNSWICK — A unique “business accelerator” for the technology industry is on track to open at Brunswick Landing in a matter of weeks.
The first phase of TechPlace will provide 20,000 square feet of mainly office space in what was a hangar workshop alongside the airstrip at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station.
Officials at the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the agency overseeing conversion of the base to civilian use, believe TechPlace will become a cornerstone for new business development at Brunswick Landing.
The aim is to bring in small companies in high-tech industries like aerospace, composite materials, renewable energy and information technology, and give them the space and resources to grow and connect with other businesses.
Prospective tenants are already lining up to sign leases for the space when it opens, MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque said.
“It’s exceeding expectations,” Levesque said. “We’re not even open yet and we already have 10 companies that are ready to move in. That’s good; we’re pleased with that.”
The section that will open in January is the first phase in a planned 92,000-square-foot project. Laboratory space for bio-tech research is planned for the future.
Since many of the facility’s resources will be shared between the tenants, part of the concept is encourage businesses to develop and grow collaboratively.
“What invariably happens when you have these companies hanging out together, you have what we call ‘collisions of innovation,’ where companies collect and collaborate on projects and even form their own companies in this environment,” Levesque said.
MRRA started renovations on Hangar 250, at 74 Orion St., in early September. The $1.5 million project was paid for through a federal grant and matching funds from MRRA, the Brunswick Development Corp., and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.
When it is finished, TechPlace will be able to house 40-50 companies, Levesque said.
Besides office and manufacturing space, MRRA aims to provide TechPlace tenants with legal and business advice on issues like financing, patents, and intellectual property through scheduled workshops and a lecture series.
Levesque said MRRA is waiting to pass inspections by the town’s code office and hopes to open TechPlace in mid-January.