University of Hawaii’s nationally recognized accelerator selects sixth cohort

University of Hawaiʻi
David Ai, (808) 956-9024
Chief Innovation Officer and Director, Office of Innovation and Commercialization
Eric R. Matsunaga, (808) 956-5588
Manager, Research and Administrative Operations, Office of the VP for Research and Innovation
Posted: Jan 30, 2019

XLR8UH, the multi-phase education and investment program designed to help grow University of Hawaiʻi entrepreneurs and startups, has selected four companies to participate in the program’s sixth cohort. Recognized in 2017 by Forbes as one of the top 30 accelerator programs in the United States, XLR8UH is a public-private partnership between the University of Hawaiʻi and Sultan Ventures, a venture firm that supports visionary founders in building successful, long-lasting businesses by guiding them at every stage of their journey.

“As we continue to build out a complete innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem for the entire UH System, we are pleased to see a high number of strong applicants competing for the few seats in this round,” said David Ai, chief innovation officer and director of the UH Office of Innovation and Commercialization.  “It is a clear sign that UH has a robust entrepreneurial culture in place, which motivates us to continue to offer more services to give our startups their best chance at success.”

The search for Cohort 6 began late last year with multiple class info sessions on the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa campus and culminated with two sessions held at the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship at the Shidler College of Business. The search called for those interested in becoming an entrepreneur, starting a company, commercializing technology, or joining a startup. From more than 100  applicants across multiple UH System campuses across the islands and three screening rounds, only four companies were selected.

This year’s cohort includes four startups that are 1) developing groundbreaking sensor technology, 2) reinventing database security and connecting cyber-physical infrastructure, 3) redefining collaborative meeting environments, and 4) enhancing the digital gifting experience.


Team: Olga Borić-Lubecke, Victor Lubecke
Adnoviv makes intelligent occupancy sensors that save energy without compromise. │ Accolades: Phase 1 Graduate, 2015, XLR8UH - Cohort 2, Awarded $750,000 grant from the National Science Foundation

Team: Reza Ghorbani, Nour Lababidi
Helps care-providers and physicians remotely monitor and examine their patients via secure web-based portals and web-integrated wireless devices. │ Accolades: Cyclon Cyber Accelerator - Cohort 8 London; Dubai Future Accelerator - Cohort 3

Team: Alberto Gonzalez Martinez, Dylan Kobayashi, Ryan Theriot
A collaboration platform providing real-time team workspaces in the cloud. │ Facebook: @RendezViewColab │ Twitter: @Rendezview_io
Accolades: 1st Place, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) 2018 Business Plan Competition

Team: Tom Knapp-Ramos
Gift wrap for digital gifting. │ Facebook: @Swipewrap │ Accolades: 3rd Place, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) 2018 Business Plan Competition

On January 12, the XLR8UH program kicked off at the University of Hawaiʻi’s Innovation Lab or iLab on the Mānoa campus. Over the next four months, the intensive program will offer the four companies mentors, weekly workshops, office hours, presentations and lectures conducted by notable experts specializing in business, technology and startups. The program culminates in a public showcase day where teams present in front of an audience of investors, partners, and community stakeholders.

Teams are eligible for up to $75,000 in seed capital, plus an additional $100,000 in follow-on funding, for a total XLR8UH-driven investment of $175,000. 

"We look forward to continuing our partnership with the University of Hawaiʻi " said Omar Sultan, founder and managing director, XLR8UH. "The excellent companies in this year's cohort are sure to contribute to the program's ongoing national recognition."

Launched in 2014, XLR8UH is a nationally ranked, award-winning startup accelerator educating, mentoring, and investing in UH startups and entrepreneurs. Formed as a public-private partnership between University of Hawaiʻi (UH) and Sultan Ventures, XLR8UH’s goal is to create economic prosperity through the science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship that is formed at UH, converting the state’s regional strength of groundbreaking research into new businesses and jobs.

To-date, 24 companies have completed the XLR8UH program. These companies have gone on to generate millions of dollars in revenue and received millions of dollars more in follow-on funding.

For more information about XLR8UH, visit or follow @xlr8uh on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

About UH 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 collaborative venture firm that builds visionary startups and innovation hubs. Founded in Honolulu in 2009, the company works closely with innovative early-stage startups focused on transformative solutions, as well as with entrepreneurs, fellow investors, and organizations to provide in-depth innovation advisory. Guided by a people-first approach, Sultan Ventures also invests in human capital by developing opportunities to educate and elevate entrepreneurs.

About the Hawaiʻi Innovation Initiative
The University of Hawai‘i is working in partnership with the private sector and government to build a thriving innovation, research, education and training 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 faced by Hawai`i and the world.

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