STEVE LEVESQUE, director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, is seen at TechPlace, a hub and shared workspace for startups at Brunswick Landing.

STEVE LEVESQUE, director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, is seen at TechPlace, a hub and shared workspace for startups at Brunswick Landing.

BRUNSWICK

One of the first companies to move into TechPlace at Brunswick Landing is also the first to graduate from the shared technology and office hub at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station.

After doubling in sales, Starc Systems is looking to double production, and so is moving down the road at Brunswick Landing.

STARC SYSTEMS COO BRUCE BICKFORD at his company’s new facility at Brunswick Landing. “We had reached the limit of what we could do here (at TechPlace),” said Bickford. “It’s been a great environment. It’s allowed us to expand as we’ve needed it, without restriction. It’s been a real bonus for us.”

STARC SYSTEMS COO BRUCE BICKFORD at his company’s new facility at Brunswick Landing. “We had reached the limit of what we could do here (at TechPlace),” said Bickford. “It’s been a great environment. It’s allowed us to expand as we’ve needed it, without restriction. It’s been a real bonus for us.”

TechPlace opened in 2015, with Starc Systems as one of a handful of tenants.

Today, there are more than 30 companies operating out of TechPlace employing nearly 70 people, according to Steve Levesque, director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the agency that oversees the former military base and its Topsham annex.

TechPlace, he said, has exceeded expectations.

“We didn’t think we’d be along this far this fast,” Levesque said, who has referred to TechPlace as a “hybrid” that “doesn’t exist anywhere else in the U.S.”

“It’s a place where a small company can come in at a very low cost,” said Levesque.

Shared facilities include office and manufacturing spaces, machine, wood and paint shops, as well as a wet lab. Coming soon will be a common composites layout facility.

“All this stuff companies would have to buy and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Levesque said. “Now they can use this on a shared basis.”

Starc Systems builds temporary walls to contain dust and debris during construction projects. The company employees nearly 20 people.

It had at first occupied 4,500 square feet of TechPlace, but soon took up nearly 13,000 square feet of space.

“We had reached the limit of what we could do here,” said Bruce Bickford, Starc’s COO. “It’s been a great environment. It’s allowed us to expand as we’ve needed it, without restriction. It’s been a real bonus for us.”

Starc isn’t going far. While it will continue to lease office space at TechPlace, Starc is now leasing a 60,000-square-foot building that once stored snow removal equipment for the base, constructed around 2004.

The building formally housed Maine Tool & Machine, which moved out in October at the request of MRRA. “They weren’t paying their bills,” Levesque said. “They’re in another community now.”

The Brunswick area commercial real estate market for a company the size of Starc meant that there were few affordable options other than Brunswick Landing, Bickford said. But that’s not the sole reason Starc is staying at Brunswick Landing.

“There’s a community atmosphere we like,” said Bickford. “And we’re still able to leverage the resources at TechPlace, like the conference rooms and the 3D printer and the machine shop.”

“As these companies grow, they need to move out. We’re happy they have a place to go to,” Levesque said.

At least two new companies have signed on to rent space at TechPlace. One is Bostonbased AdmitHub, a software development company and designer of a messaging service to support students and boost or keep enrollments.

The other is Cambridge, Massachusetts based Hydroswarm, which designs and markets underwater drones capable of working autonomously. Hydroswarm’s founder, Sampriti Bhattacharyya, was recently named as one of Forbes magazine’s “30 Under 30” in manufacturing and industry.

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