The University of Hawaiʻi’s budding innovation and entrepreneurial programs were featured in an innovation showcase and roundtable discussion co-hosted by Senator Mazie K. Hirono. The event held on the UH Mānoa campus brought together top business, education and government leaders to highlight entrepreneurial efforts in Hawaiʻi as well as discuss how federal resources can fuel the growth of small business and spark innovation. The featured programs and presenters were from UH’s proof of concept center/venture accelerator, XLR8UH, Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship, the UH i-Lab (innovation lab) and UH Maui College’s Maui Food Innovation Center.
“This event served as a tremendous opportunity to share with a cross-section of local businesses and stakeholders, along with federal agencies and Senator Hirono, what we’re doing in Hawaiʻi to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship,” said UH President David Lassner. “Today’s program showcased people who are establishing support programs and a strong representation of local entrepreneurs who are launching businesses and creating jobs, which is exactly why we’re here.”
“Innovation is vital to diversifying Hawaiʻi’s economy, and today’s event connected small business owners and entrepreneurs with the resources that can help them succeed,” said Senator Hirono. “But in order to maintain this momentum, we must continue to work with partners like the University of Hawaiʻi, and state and federal government agencies, to back initiatives that support entrepreneurship and job creation in our state.”
One of the projects showcased by the university at the event was XLR8UH, a first of its kind proof of concept center/venture accelerator developed by the UH and Sultan Ventures, a boutique venture firm that manages it. The proof of concept center educates, mentors and invests in university research and talent, ranging from students to postdocs, faculty and alumni. It is one of the first public university investment programs in the nation, revolutionizing the way innovation and research is commercialized.
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“Today’s UH Innovation Showcase is key for highlighting the accomplishments and progress we’ve made in a short period of time, as well as offering insight on the direction we aim to go in in the future,” said Omar Sultan, Managing Partner of XLR8UH. “Commercialization and innovation within the University of Hawaiʻi are important because they help support economic development as we train students to think entrepreneurially before entering the workforce, and help faculty spin out their scientific research to create startups and small businesses.”