The University of Hawaiʻi and state agencies formed a partnership to raise Hawaiʻi’s global visibility in marine aquaculture and to capitalize on the commercial opportunities available worldwide. The partners are the Hawaiʻi Strategic Development Corporation (HSDC), University of Hawaiʻi, UH Ventures, LLC and Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA).
“The establishment of a Hawaiʻi aquaculture accelerator and a related investment fund is an effort to demonstrate the state’s commitment to developing Hawaiʻi’s commercial aquaculture industry and to focus entrepreneur and investor interest on Hawaiʻi as a location for globally relevant aquaculture companies,” said HSDC President Karl Fooks. “The initiative will also be focused on attracting investor capital and a follow-on fund for aquaculture in Hawaiʻi to develop technical and intellectual property that can benefit a global industry.”
According to UH Vice President for Research and Innovation Vassilis L. Syrmos, the initiative will provide proof-of-concept and commercialization services to start-ups in Hawaiʻi’s aquaculture cluster. “It is critical that we work together to promote innovation as a new economic growth engine that will spark new industry technologies, maintain our competitiveness and generate new high-wage job opportunities for our students,” said Syrmos. “The project will build upon our existing regional strengths in aquaculture research, including programs at UH Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, UH Hilo’s Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center and the UH Sea Grant College Program, which have been focused on advancing long-term sustainable use and conservation of coastal areas worldwide through aquaculture and resource management for many years.”
The partnership seeks to create a facility and program at NELHA, using the world-class facilities to attract entrepreneurs in startups, help them get into the market and find a commercial space for their project.
“We will continue to pursue strategic relationships such as this to allow NELHA to maintain its competitive advantage and make available to the global aquaculture community an asset found only in very few places around the world,” said NELHA Executive Director Gregory Barbour. “The effort will focus on launching and scaling startups in the developing cluster of aquaculture companies operating in Hawaiʻi that service global markets, develop new cultured species, pioneer new feed sources and the technologies needed to support open ocean and land-based aquaculture.”
The partnership is also receiving guidance and advice from key representatives, including the Department of Agriculture, Agribusiness Development Corporation, Hawaiʻi Technology Development Corporation and Ulupono Initiative.