State Partners With Hawaii TechWorksJuly 30, 2014, 12:08 PM HST (Updated August 20, 2014, 10:37 AM)
The state High Technology Development Corporation and Hilo-based Hawaii TechWorks formalized an agreement Wednesday that aims to strengthen their resources to help start new businesses.
The new partnership allows the state HTDC to extend its services from Oahu to Hilo and make a larger impact on the Big Island to support the growing local tech community, said HTDC Director Robbie Melton.
The partnership agreement was signed at a monthly Hawaii TechWorks “Tech Tuesday Meetup,” where Big Island design and tech professionals gather in Hilo informally to outreach, collaborate and discuss new ideas.
The partnership is the first of its kind, Melton said. HTDC, a state agency set up in 1983 to develop Hawaii’s commercial high-tech industry, provided $6,000 for the live-streaming capabilities and operating expenses in Hilo.
HTW clients on the Big Island can now access live-streaming events and workshops in Hilo and Honolulu, she said. Clients will also be able to access a newly extended network of shared “co-work” space spanning Oahu, Maui and now, the Big Island.
Hawaii Tech Works started in 2012 to help bridge the gap between technical talent in rural Hawaii and access to quality opportunities, said Tony Marzi, founder and president.
Melton said Marzi approached her earlier this year about grant funding and as they talked the broader idea emerged. “Robbie accelerated things,” Marzi said.
Marzi said HTW’s goals are to develop high-impact local businesses, help entrepreneurs convert ideas into successful businesses and increase their chances of success with technical assistance, business infrastructure and networking opportunities.
“There’s nothing quite like it,” Marzi said. “It’s definitely filling a need.” There are 20 members and more than 200 people have filtered through the “Tech Tuesday Meetups,” he said.
Melton said the partnership also will help start-up businesses obtain underutilized US small business research grants and other sources of funding. “Not enough companies take advantage,” Melton said. “We can not only help get the grants, we can match funds.”
The ultimate goal of HTDC’s role is to create more higher-paying jobs in Hawaii, she said.