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Smiling man in a cane field
Academic Support Specialist Jake Rodrique harvests seed cane for field trial

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo is leading a collaborative project to create a new academy to enhance career opportunities in the bioeconomy, which encompasses the production of renewable fuel, energy, chemicals and materials from agricultural resources. The UH Hilo College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management, along with the National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and the nonprofit BioMADE, have partnered to form ALAKAʻI, the acronym for Applied Life-Science Academy: Knowledge Advancing Industry.

Bruce Matthews
Bruce Matthews

“The bioeconomy is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while maintaining and improving standards of living by replacing fossil fuels with renewable biomass for the materials and fuels we use daily,” said Bruce Mathews, dean of the UH Hilo agriculture college.

The academy is geared toward accelerating climate change solutions by developing industry-relevant training for delivery in Hawaiʻi and across the U.S. UH Hilo will pilot flagship training in July 2022 and in summer 2023. Curriculum will draw on traditional Hawaiian and Pacific Island cultural perspectives to provide insights and guiding principles for effective sustainability.

According to Mathews, the bioeconomy bolsters agricultural economies by bringing new value to agricultural waste streams, growing crops grown on marginal lands not used for food production, and value-added bio-products.

“It is crucial to enhancing economic development and better living standards for America’s rural communities, and to creating new opportunities for students and the people of Hawaiʻi,” he explained.

ALAKAʻI aims to provide training for professionals in the bioeconomy, including operators, technicians, scientists, managers, policymakers, regulators, investors, advocates and students.

For more go to UH Hilo Stories.

—By Susan Enright

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