Tech Innovator wins GSB's $50,000 LaunchPad Grant

The 2021 grand prize went to Portland-based DataOps software company HighByte. GSB gives $70,000 in no-strings attached grants to small businesses.

HighByte took the top prize at Gorham Savings Bank’s LaunchPad competition and its corresponding $50,000 grant. The company was chosen among five finalists who pitched Tuesday afternoon to an independent panel of judges as well as family, friends, and supporters watching via livestream. HighByte impressed the judges with its strong management team and desire to grow tech jobs in Maine. The other four finalists, all of whom delivered impressive and well-received pitches, were Brave Foods, Erin Flett/Studio e Flett, Hüga Heat and Vintage Maine Kitchen.

HighByte is a first mover in the Industrial DataOps software category, disrupting the global manufacturing tech market by 1.) creating a new approach to data integration and security and 2.) improving data quality and reducing time spent preparing data for use throughout the enterprise.

Gorham Savings Bank also honored one business in the Emerging Business Award category. From a group of an additional five finalists selected from LaunchPad applicants, C. Love Cookie Project earned the distinction, plus a $10,000 grant from GSB and $10,000 worth of in-kind marketing, business development, and public relations services from Creative Imaging Group, Grove Marketing, iBec Creative, Philbrook PR and pro-voke. Additionally, an anonymous donor from the community contributed $1,000 bringing the cash prize total for this award to $11,000. C. Love Cookie Project creates community around a cookie. 21 percent of sales support the immigrant community in Portland. To view their award announcement, click here.

And this year only, a special $10,000 Business Agility Award for outstanding perseverance and response to the COVID-19 pandemic went to Zootility, a design studio reimagining everyday products so they can be made locally and sustainability using futuristic manufacturing.

“We saw a fantastic group of small businesses present at LaunchPad this year, and we were inspired by their creativity, determination, and vision” Steve deCastro, president and CEO, Gorham Savings Bank said. “Today’s event gives me even greater confidence that Maine’s innovators will lead our state toward a more diverse and prosperous economy.”

A special thanks to this year’s event judges: Catherine Cloudman (president and CEO, CHC Advisors LLC), Kate McAleer (founder, Bixby & Co. and 2014 LaunchPad winner), and Ed McKersie (founder and president of ProSearch, founder of Live+Work in Maine). Business consultant Michelle Neujahr of Nu-Yar emceed the event again this year.

L to R: judge Kate McAleer, emcee Michelle Neujahr, judge Catherine Cloudman, 2021 LaunchPad Winner Torey Penrod-Cambra of HighByte, president and CEO of Gorham Savings Bank Steve deCastro, and judge Ed McKersie.


L to R: founder Katherine Slevin with employee Amber Shahzad of C. Love Cookie Project, 2021 LaunchPad Emerging Business Award Winner.