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UH accelerator wins national award for the third year in a row

University of Hawaiʻi
Vassilis L. Syrmos, (808) 956-5006
Vice President for Research and Innovation
Eric R. Matsunaga, (808) 956-5588
Manager, Research & Administrative Operations, Office of the VP for Research and Innovation
Posted: Nov 3, 2017

The XLR8UH team and members of Cohort 5
The XLR8UH team and members of Cohort 5

The University of Hawai‘i’s award-winning startup accelerator, XLR8UH, was named one of only 20 national winners of the U.S. Small Business Association’s (SBA) Growth Accelerator Fund competition. This marks the third year in a row that the University of Hawai‘i (UH) accelerator has won the competition, which includes a $50,000 cash award.

XLR8UH was the only winner from Hawai‘i in this year’s SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund competition, which is designed to draw attention and funding to parts of the country with gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Winners were selected by experts in entrepreneurship, investing and business plans from both inside and out of the federal government and based on applications and pitch videos submitted by the finalists.

”We are pleased to have our XLR8UH program take home this prestigious SBA national award once again,” said UH Vice President for Research and Innovation Vassilis L. Syrmos. “It further validates our continuing efforts under the Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative to diversify the state’s economy by creating a third economic leg based on the commercialization of UH research."

This award builds upon the national recognition garnered by XLR8UH in 2017, which also includes being named one of the top 30 accelerators in the country by Forbes. XLR8UH is one of the first public university investment programs in the nation, revolutionizing the way innovation and research is commercialized.

“We are honored, once again, to have won this award and be counted among the top accelerator programs in the country,” said Omar Sultan, co-founder and managing partner of XLR8UH and Sultan Ventures. “The SBA’s recognition over the past three years has helped shine a national spotlight on the strong and growing entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Hawai‘i and on the innovations generated by UH research.

In accepting the SBA award, the winning accelerators will be committing to bi-annual reporting of metrics on jobs created, funds raised, startups launched, corporate sponsors obtained and more. These metrics will allow the SBA to better understand accelerators and their impact, and to develop long-term relationships with the startups and constituents in these innovative and entrepreneurial communities.

Launched in 2014 as a public-private partnership between UH and Sultan Ventures, XLR8UH has mentored and trained five cohorts consisting of 24 companies. In total, these companies have created more than 100 jobs and generated over $5 million in revenue, nearly all of which remains in Hawai‘i.

“With only 20 awards available this year, the two tiered selection process made the competition even more difficult,” said Jane Sawyer, director of the SBA’s Hawai‘i District Office. “Our team is extremely pleased that XLR8UH once again was recognized as one of the nation’s top accelerators.”

About XLR8UH
XLR8UH is the University of Hawai‘i’s award-winning startup accelerator. The program, a public-private partnership between University of Hawai‘i (UH) and Sultan Ventures, educates, mentors and invests in UH startups and entrepreneurs. XLR8UH’s goal is to create economic prosperity through the science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship that is formed at UH, by converting groundbreaking research into new businesses and jobs.

About University of Hawai‘i Research
Research conducted by the University of Hawai‘i (UH) impacts the quality of life in the islands and around the world. As the state’s major research university, and because of Hawai‘i’s tremendous geographic diversity, UH plays a prominent role in the state’s economic growth and development through its diverse and world-renowned research programs in astronomy, earth and ocean sciences, medicine and tropical agriculture.

About Sultan Ventures
Sultan Ventures is a venture firm helping visionary founders build successful, long-lasting businesses by supporting them at every stage of their journey. This means we’re engaged from initial idea to long-term success.  As a startup catalyst, we provide pivotal resources via our network of experts and investors, while providing the hands-on expertise necessary to accelerate growth.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 and since January 13, 2012 has served as a Cabinet-level agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation.  The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses.  Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, the SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

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.