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Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition participants and judges.

A team of University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa biology, business and mechanical engineering students earned first place in the 2019 Shidler College of Business Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) Business Plan Competition, sponsored by American Savings Bank.

Four finalist teams representing the best early-stage student startup ideas at UH competed for prize packages totaling more than $40,000 in cash and in-kind awards on April 25.

“Competitions, such as this one, make a tremendous difference in our students’ college experience and in their lives,” said Peter Rowan, executive director of PACE. “I’m grateful to our generous sponsors who share our passion for nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators, and to the more than 60 business professionals who volunteered their time and energy as coaches, judges and instructors to make this real-world learning opportunity possible.”

Winning teams

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G-Trainer team

The first-place team was inspired by a participant’s brother who has cerebral palsy. The G-Trainer team designed a walking assistive device that incorporates self-stabilizing gyroscopic technology into its wheels for greater freedom and mobility for individuals with disabilities. Everett Amundson, Kendra Horvath, Jillian Kuba and Austin Yoshino won $10,000 and more than $19,500 in legal, marketing and startup support services.

Second place went to Dive Buddy, a local diving equipment and technology company specializing in providing tour companies with diver safety and diver identification products. Bradley Beeksma, Melody Leilani Kaohu, Isaac Lee, Zack Naqvi and Nicholas Ulm received $5,000 and more than $13,500 in legal, marketing and startup support services.

Okara Kitchen earned third place for creating nutrient-dense, gluten-free pizza dough from repurposed tofu and soy milk byproduct. Jinan Banna and Asuka Suzuki received $2,500 and more than $7,000 in legal and marketing services.

The winners beat 21 other teams to earn the awards and start-up funding.