Maine Startup and Create Week is here.

The weeklong celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship in Maine will feature more than 158 speakers at more than two dozen scheduled events, panel discussions and shindigs throughout Portland.

It began Thursday night with PROPEL’s entreverge awards, which honored seven local entrepreneurs. Portland’s third Startup Weekend began Friday night and continues all weekend. The first official Maine Startup and Create Week event will be the “Think Big” kick-off bash Sunday night at Port City Music Hall.

Topics of discussion include innovation in the sports industry, innovation in the marine industry, women and entrepreneurship, Portland’s cluster of pet health care companies, and the intersection of law and innovation.

As of Thursday there were more than 600 people signed up to take part in some aspect of the week, according to Jess Knox, statewide coordinator of Blackstone Accelerates Growth and one of the lead organizers. Knox couldn’t say how many registered participants were local and how many were traveling from other parts of the state or country. He said the organizers would be able to do a proper analysis once the event is over.

Southwest Airlines provided four free airline tickets to fly in four entrepreneurs with an interest in moving to Maine to build their business or work at a local startup.

Beyond startup junkies – those serial entrepreneurs who always want to work at a startup – Knox said he hopes the week’s worth of events attracts people from throughout Maine to celebrate entrepreneurship and build the state’s reputation as a place where innovators can build their companies.

“It’s contagious. These are the people who are building companies here in Maine, who want to live and be in this wonderful state and I encourage everybody to be part of it and come dip their toes in the water and see what they think,” Knox said. “The model we’re building is totally inclusive. No one has to ask to be part of it. There’s no vice president of membership for the startup community. It’s a pretty fun thing to be a part of and I encourage people to come and take a first spin.”

A weeklong pass costs $595, while a single day’s pass costs $149.

Regardless of the event’s final outcome, Knox said one of the organizers’ major goals has already been accomplished: Putting Maine and its startup community on the national map. Startup celebrities like Brad Feld, a nationally recognized speaker on venture capital investing and entrepreneurship, and Steven Koltai, former manager of the U.S. State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program, are participating in the event. Speakers are also traveling from Colorado; New Orleans; New York; Fargo, North Dakota; and Washington, D.C., to take part. The event has been noticed and written about on tech websites in Las Vegas and Boston, and by national organizations covering entrepreneurship like Tech Cocktail.

“No longer will we just be asked about what our two companies are,” Knox said. “This is about the cultural reputation for Maine – whether you’re in Boston or Montreal or Reykjavik or Providence. This is a step in that direction and I feel like given the involvement we’ve had already, we’re changing that paradigm.”

The event is a collaboration of a number of organizations, including Startup Portland, the Maine Center for Creativity, the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, Creative Portland, Peloton Labs, Big Room Studios, the Portland Public Library, Shines & Jecker Laboratories, MassChallenge, UpGlobal, the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce and Portland’s local SCORE chapter.