Future Focus: The Hawaiʻi Innovation Initiative’s Forum on Energy, Cybersecurity and More, organized by the University of Hawaiʻi and the Hawaiʻi Business Roundtable, is the first of what is expected to be an annual event aimed at creating and maintaining a dialog about what it will take to diversify Hawaiʻi’s economy by building the state’s technology and innovation sector.

“The University of Hawaiʻi is committed to continuing to accelerate the growth of our research activities,” said Randy Moore, UH Board of Regents chair. “Our goal is to anchor and support the emergence of a billion dollar innovation and research sector in Hawaiʻi.”

The first Future Focus conference, sponsored by American Savings Bank and the Queen’s Health Systems, focused on energy and cybersecurity with experts and officials from around the country describing the opportunities and resources available for Hawaiʻi companies.

Future Focus conference

It was all presented in a variety of engaging formats such as TED Talk style speakers, poolside chats, without the pool, and smaller breakout sessions. More than 200 people from the public and private sector attended, including officials from the National Security Agency, U.S. Department of Energy, Small Business Administration, the heads of large companies such as Hitachi and Hawaiian Electric and the founders of promising local startups such as Ibis Networks, Flywire and MorphOptics.

Governor David Ige started the conference by telling everyone in attendance that time is now for Hawaiʻi to develop its technology and innovation sector, adding that he has a personal interest in its success.

Said Governor Ige, “My son’s a junior majoring in computer sciences so essentially we have two years, everyone, to create the job opportunities (loud laughter from crowd) that our young people will want to fight for. To give them the opportunity to return to Hawaiʻi and live, work, play here at home.”