First HI2 Forum to Connect Research and Business


The Hawaii Innovation Initiative — the one focused on research at the University of Hawaii launched in 2013, not former Gov. Linda Lingle’s policy plan from 2007 — will host its first forum next week. Co-sponored by the Hawaii Business Roundtable, the two-day event will focus on energy and cybersecurity.

The Hawaii Innovation Initiative, or HI2 (HI squared), was born in 2012, part of the vision of former UH President M.R.C. Greenwood. The Initiative is based on the premise that grant-funded research at UH is the strongest foundation on which to build the “innovation industry” throughout the state. The idea was modeled in part on the CONNECT program at the University of California at San Diego.

Among its goals was doubling all grants brought in to UH in ten years, from $500 million in 2012 to more than $1 billion by 2022. And the plan was to hire “50 internationally known, successful researchers over the next five years.”

Greenwood left her post the following year, and the Initiative didn’t receive its requested funding from the state legislature. But it continued to move forward, in part from strong support from the private sector. It became a key part of the university’s 2015-2021 strategic plan. And last year, the Initiative brought in its first new researcher, Edward DeLeong, previously a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Hawaii Business Roundtable’s collaboration with UH in putting on the forum is further evidence of the local business community’s ongoing support of the Initiative. The forum will include panel discussions, interactive workshops, “poolside chats” with subject-matter experts, and one-on-one sessions. Key questions to be addressed include:

  • What are the top priorities for federal agencies like Energy, Commerce, NSA, FBI, and DOD? How can Hawaii companies play a role?
  • What have we learned from hacks on Sony and the GSA? What roles will new technologies play in securing the future?
  • How are small business and tech companies changing, and how can you stay ahead of the curve?

The program will kick off with welcome remarks from Gov. David Ige, followed by five four-minute TED-style talks from local entrepreneurs: Sean Hookano-Briel from Comprendio, Jacob Isaac-Lowry from FlyWire, Jeff Kuhn from MorphOptics, Michael Pfeffer from Ibis Networks, and Hank Wuh from TruTag Technologies. Local startup MeetingSift will help connect the audience with the people on stage.

Later that morning, HTDC CEO Robbie Melton will facilitate a discussion of the most common mistakes made by entrepreneurs and how to make them, featuring Chenoa Farnsworth of Blue Startups, Meli James of XLR8UH, Dan Leuck of Ikayzo, and Susan Yamada from the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE).

There will be several keynote speakers across both days, including Dr. John Burrow, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research Development Test and Evaluation, Javier Saade from the Small Business Administration’s Office of Investment and Innovation, Phillip Singerman from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and Yasuo Tanabe, Vice President and Executive Officer at Hitachi.

Other speakers include representatives from the Office of Naval Research, U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education.

The “Future Focus” forum will run all day Wednesday, Sept. 23 and the morning of Thursday, Sept. 24 at the Hawaii Convention Center.Registration is $95 and includes a continental breakfast on both days as well as lunch and a networking reception on Wednesday.

For more information, visit the forum page or Hawaii Innovation Initiative page on the UH website. Click here to register online.

1 Response

  1. October 18, 2015

    […] taking last month off for the Hawaii Innovation Initiative forum, the HVCA will host a panel discussion and audience Q&A focused on “paying it forward to […]

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