New UH center aims to improve commercial success of UH research

University of Hawaiʻi
Vassilis L. Syrmos, (808) 956-5006
VP for Research and Innovation, Office of the VP for Research and Innovation
Eric R. Matsunaga, (808) 956-5588
Director, Research and Administrative Operations, Office of the VP for Research and Innovation
Posted: Sep 4, 2014


HONOLULU – The University of Hawai’i is launching an entrepreneurial springboard for its world-class research. 

The UH has achieved numerous accolades in research: from the cloning of green mice to the recent launch of a student-designed and built small satellite. Building upon these achievements, UH now aims to transform its world-class research and talent into an equally viable commercial success.  With XLR8UH, UH joins a growing movement of universities around the country in creating "proof of concept centers" (POCCs) focused on investing in innovative ideas and providing a launch pad for commercialization.

The University of Hawai'i will publicly launch its XLR8UH Proof of Concept Center at an invitation-only event on Thursday, September 4, 2013 at 5:00 p.m.; Sullivan Conference Center, UH Cancer Center. 

XLR8UH will harvest promising UH research, develop talented UH entrepreneurs and connect them to a diverse network of investors and businesses.  Successful technologies may then lead to further funding from the Upside Fund, a UH-focused seed stage venture fund based out of the University of Hawai`i Foundation.

“The University of Hawai`i is world-renowned for its research in oceanography, astronomy, agriculture, medicine, cancer research and genetics,” said UH Vice President for Research and Innovation Vassilis L. Syrmos.  “However, the crossover to commercialization is expensive and for many scientists, including our own, success without the proper ecosystem that a POCC provides often results in the proverbial ‘valley of death’.”  The “valley of death” that Syrmos refers to is a term that describes the vast chasm that often prevents a great idea from reaching commercial viability.

"The establishment of XLR8UH represents an exciting new initiative and has received strong support from the community, sending a strong signal about the quality and interest in commercialization at the University of Hawai`i,” said XLR8UH Managing Director Omar Sultan. “The center will be an integral part of the development of University of Hawai`i innovation and facilitate the commercialization pathway."

All faculty and student cohorts accepted to XLR8UH must successfully complete an entrepreneurial/commercialization education program conducted in conjunction with the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE).  PACE, which has been instrumental in encouraging and promoting entrepreneurial activity to UH students and faculty through a multitude of programs, will provide cohorts with the necessary education, guidance and resources to nurture the development of UH’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.

“I’m a strong proponent of this dynamic and highly collaborative approach,” said UH President David Lassner.  “It will support our innovative faculty and students in bringing their creative ideas and technologies to the community and is a critical aspect of the Hawai`i Innovation Initiative and our work to create more great jobs in Hawai'i.”

As a partner in the Hawai`i Innovation Initiative with the Hawai`i Business Roundtable, XLR8UH represents a major component of UH’s aggressive pursuit to successfully grow and commercialize its research enterprise to help diversify the state’s economy.


About the Hawai`i Innovation Initiative

The University of Hawai‘i is working in partnership with the private sector and government to build a thriving research enterprise in Hawai‘i that will develop a third major economic sector for the state, create high-quality living-wage jobs, and address the challenges and opportunities that face our communities and the world to improve our quality of life. 

About XLR8UH

XLR8UH is the University of Hawai`i’s first Proof of Concept Center.  In a collaborative effort along with the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship and the Office of Vice President for Research and Innovation, XLR8UH will identify, fund, mentor and empower University of Hawai`i entrepreneurs with the skills, connections and expertise needed to drive startup success.

XLR8UH website: