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Friday, August 01, 2014         

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UH sees research as economic engine

The university plans to establish an institute that would connect innovators to investors

By Kristen Consillio

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University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood said yesterday that the school will ramp up research efforts and integrate entrepreneurial curriculum systemwide in an effort to diversify the state economy.

Greenwood cited a draft report by the Advisory Council on Hawaii Innovation and Technology Advancement, members of which she appointed last April from business, government and education, to develop recommendations on how to increase private-sector jobs, keep Hawaii competitive and grow the economy.

The council recommended the immediate establishment of a Hawaii Innovation Technology Exchange Institute to connect entrepreneurs with investors, build business partnerships early in the development process and help to commercialize university research.

It is unclear how the institute would be funded or what its structure would be.

"Obviously we're going to continue to work on what is the best structure for us to move the discoveries and ideas and innovations that happen in the university quickly into benefits for the state," Greenwood said.

This will eventually translate into high-performing jobs with better wages, she added.

The university plans to establish the institute and other recommendations within the next six months, she said.

Identifying research as an industry in Hawaii and focusing on commercialization opportunities in key areas, including security and sustainability, energy and agriculture, data analytics and Asian-Pacific health, were also seen as key to the success of transforming Hawaii from a primarily single-industry state.

Representatives from the Obama administration attended the forum sponsored by UH and the National Academies, composed of experts who advise the U.S. government in science, technology and economic policy.

"We have some of the finest entrepreneurial efforts here that have manifested themselves in advancing the military and strategic interests of this nation," said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

The council is composed of Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization; Daniel Goldin, president and chief executive officer of Intellisis Corp. and a retired NASA administrator; Katharine Ku, director of Stanford University's Office of Technology Transfer; Jim Lally, partner emeritus at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; Brian Taylor, dean of the UH School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology; Barry Weinman, managing director and co-founder of Allegis Capital; Mary Walshok, associate vice chancellor of public programs at UC-San Diego; and Hank C.K. Wuh, CEO of Skai Ventures/Cellular Bioengineering Inc.

The report can be viewed at www.hawaii.edu/innovation. UH is seeking public comments on the council's recommendations by e-mail at innovate@hawaii.edu. The deadline to submit feedback is Feb. 1.






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