Two Thoughtful Takes on Hawaii Innovation

Innovation Framework Forward

Last week brought a preview of the “Hawaii Innovation Assets” report, compiled by the Hawaii Business Roundtable. The report, due to be released soon, identifies the state’s innovation assets and highlights the importance of growing the research and innovation sectors for future economic growth.

Although the HBR Innovation Assets Report has yet to be released, you can listen to American Savings Bank CEO Richard Wacker share some of the highlights on last week’s episode of Bytemarks Cafe.

But a second report focused on Hawaii innovation was just released to less fanfare. Enterprise Honolulu (part of the Oahu Economic Development Board) has just published “The Innovation Framework Forward,” featuring specific recommendations that would further Hawaii’s economic transformation.

Compiled by Yuka Nagashima, former executive director of the High Technology Development Corporation, the “Framework” report features input from a wide spectrum of stakeholders and leaders from Hawaii entrepreneurs and established business owners, to policy leaders and economic development experts. From these different perspectives, the report assesses the status quo as well as many different visions of the future predicted for Hawaii.

From those visions comes a call for “innovation driven growth,” rather than racing to rescue the latest vertical sector from decline.

“Hawaii’s economic growth in the last 20 years still lags behind the national average, despite the recent recovery of the tourism industry,” Nagashima writes. “If we are to provide the quality of life we have come to expect or to leave a better Hawaii to the next generation, we must change how we approach economic development in our community.”

How big is Hawaii’s “innovation economy”? Nagashima cites the HBR Innovation Assets Report (and its contributors, including UHERO and DBEDT) in estimating the current size of the “innovation economy” to be about 65,000 jobs. That includes over 27,000 jobs in the “core tech sector,” and over 21,000 jobs in the “creative sector.”

Key recommendations from the report include:

  • Provide dedicated funding streams or mechanisms for innovation initiatives.
  • Align and support initiatives that contribute to the infrastructure, the talent development, and the capital needs of the innovation ecosystem.
  • Shift university research commercialization from an exclusive license model to the transferring projects model.
  • Identify a go-to entity devoted to innovation that is respected by both the private and public sectors.
  • Agree on the metrics for innovation performance and the methodology, and designate a state entity to consistently report on the agreed-upon metrics.

Nagashima talked to a great mix of people, from Henk Rogers and Eric Nakagawa to Richard Lim and Kathryn Matayoshi. I was honored to also participate in her interviews.

The full report can be downloaded as a PDF from the Enterprise Honolulu website.

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3 Responses

  1. December 28, 2014

    […] to the mainland. Although the Hawaii tech industry is growing (accounting for over 27,000 jobs, by some estimates), it’s still small, and local talent is understandably drawn to greener […]

  2. October 8, 2015

    […] local business community itself has begun to measure the “innovation economy,” with the Hawaii Business Roundtable recently releasing its Innovation Assets Report. The group […]

  3. December 28, 2015

    […] sector is small but growing, accounting for over 24,000 jobs that are seen as part of a larger, 65,000-job “innovation economy.” Nonetheless, many of Hawaii’s best and brightest leave the […]

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