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UH Ventures Accelerator’s spring 2020 cohort.

Three programs are coming together for University of Hawaiʻi students, faculty, staff and alumni interested in making their innovative visions come to life.

HATCH, Purple Prize and UH Ventures Accelerator provide participants with mentorship, education and funding. For the first time, these accelerators are participating in combined, virtual information sessions on April 28 and May 27, 12–1:30 p.m. Visit this website to register.

“This is a great opportunity for participants to learn about incubators and accelerators, meet past cohort entrepreneurs and ask questions of the organizers—all in one place,” said Steve Auerbach, interim director of the UH Office of Innovation and Commercialization. “With today’s current events, innovation and entrepreneurship will play a significant role in helping to restart and reshape our post-COVID-19 world.”


HATCH is the world’s first aquaculture accelerator program focused on developing sustainable aquaculture startups. Three sites will host this fall’s cohort, including a Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaiʻi Authority (NELHA) location in Kailua-Kona on Hawaiʻi Island. The other two sites are in Norway and Singapore. Approximately 10 worldwide startups will be selected to participate in the 15-week program and will receive up to $130,000 in funding. Funds are provided by the HATCH Fund, UH Ventures, NELHA and Hawaiʻi Technology Development Corporation.

Purple Prize and (K)new Futures Challenge

What started as a dream to offset carbon emissions by planting ʻulu or breadfruit trees quickly turned into reality for a UH Mānoa graduate student, thanks to resources provided by the (K)new Futures Challenge. Led by Purple Prize, in partnership with the Purple Maiʻa Foundation and the UH Office of Indigenous Innovation, the program deploys “ancestral practices in contemporary contexts to optimize impacts that strengthen regional resilience,” according to Kamuela Enos, director of the UH Office of Indigenous Innovation. Selected participants will be led through a multi-week program where they will develop a prototype, while concurrently being immersed and instilled with a deep understanding of Hawaiian cultural principles and ethics.

Established in 2016, Purple Prize empowers the people of Hawaiʻi to create technology startups rooted in Hawaiian values. While the Purple Prize competition is open to everyone, the (K)new Futures Challenge focuses on UH students.

UH Ventures Accelerator

The UH Ventures Accelerator is designed to mentor, educate and fund early-stage, UH-affiliated ideas. Powered by the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship at the Shidler College of Business at UH Mānoa, the 12-week program provides education, resources and potential funding for startups that qualify. Five projects were selected for its spring 2020 cohort and four addressed challenges related to COVID-19. According to Auerbach, accepted cohort companies are eligible for equity investment from UH Ventures, LLC and may join the UH Ventures portfolio companies, which UH has been supporting and investing in since 2014.

Auerbach said all three programs “inspire cross-disciplinary collaboration, foster the development of novel and innovative ideas and solutions for Hawaiʻi’s challenges and create more opportunities to impact Hawaiʻi.”

—By Marc Arakaki

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