HONOLULU – The U.S. Small Business Administration has recognized three Hawai‘i start-up accelerators from three islands as among the nation’s most innovative. Each receives a $50,000 cash prize as winners of the second annual growth Accelerator Fund Competition.
The local winners include Hawai‘i Island’s GVS Transmedia Accelerator, the University of Hawaii’s Honolulu-based XLR8UH and the Maui Food Innovation Center’s Accelerator Program. All of the programs are supported with state funds and work closely with the private sector to launch promising businesses in Hawai‘i.
“We are pleased to see the state’s investment in innovation gaining national recognition,” said Gov. David Ige. “These accelerators, based on Hawai‘i Island, O‘ahu and Maui demonstrate that Hawai‘i’s innovation community is active throughout the state and across various industries.”
Accelerators are a critical component of a healthy startup environment. They help drive entrepreneurship and attract investment by assisting entrepreneurs in developing their businesses and raising venture capital through mentorship and networking.
GVS Transmedia, founded in 2014, is a partnership between Global Virtual Studio, the Hawai‘i Strategic Development Corporation, the County of Hawai‘i and the GTA Development Fund. GVS aims to empower Hawai‘i-based creative entrepreneurs and help them launch original transmedia franchises.
XLR8UH is geared towards commercializing University of Hawai‘i research and innovation. Launched in 2014 with funding from UH, the accelerator will select its third cohort of startup teams this fall.
The Maui Food Innovation Center is a program at the University of Hawai‘i Maui College and provides business and technological expertis to food and agricultural entrepreneurs.
This is the second year that GVS has been recognized by the SBA. Earlier this year, another Hawai‘i accelerator, Blue Startups, which focuses on software and mobile technology, was recognized by TechCrunch as one of the top 20 accelerators in the nation. Both accelerators were launched with investment from the state’s HI Growth Initiative.
“The HI Growth Initiative investment program has successfully partnered with the private sector to establish an active entrepreneurial ecosystem in Hawai‘i. The SBA awards recognize the important role venture accelerators play in launching startups and are evidence of Hawaii’s ability to compete as an innovation hub at a national level,” said Luis Salaveria, director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT).
More than 400 accelerators applied to the SBA competition and were judged by more than 40 experts with entrepreneurial, investment, startup, economic development, capital formation and academic backgrounds from both the public and private sectors. The panel selected 80 winners from 39 states, all of whom will be required to report metrics such as jobs created, funds raised, startups launched and corporate sponsors obtained.
Hawai‘i Strategic Development Corporation
(Attached agency to DBEDT)
Governor’s Deputy Communications Director/Press Secretary