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State Launches Hawai‘i-Based Aquaculture Accelerator & Fund

April 17, 2019, 3:55 PM HST (Updated April 17, 2019, 3:55 PM)
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The Big Island of Hawai‘i will be the home to a new aquaculture accelerator that aims to attract startups that focus on sustainable solutions for the aquaculture industry. Solutions include innovative feed solutions, breakthrough technology in animal health, and farm and water management.

The new accelerator and its associated investment fund were established by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i Authority (NELHA), the Hawai‘i Strategic Development Corporation (HSDC) and the University of Hawai‘i’s UH Ventures, LLC (UHV).

After a highly competitive application process, HATCH was selected as the best candidate to operate the Hawai‘i accelerator and run the investment fund. HATCH is the world’s first sustainable aquaculture accelerator, with operations in Norway and Singapore.  .

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The accelerator will initially be fully funded for three years and is expected to nurture three cohorts of 10 to 12 globally relevant aquaculture technology startups per year.

“This effort is very much in line with our administration’s ongoing focus to build an innovation-based economy, advance the state’s commitment to sustainability and add tie-in to initiatives,” said Gov. David Ige.

Gov. Ige and the state launches new Hawai‘i-based aquaculture accelerator and fund on April 17, 2019. Courtesy photo.

According to HSDC Director Karl Fooks, the global aquaculture industry is poised for a sustained period of growth and expansion.

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“Hawai‘i is home to both pioneering industry research efforts and commercial activities that have made significant contributions to the global industry,” Fooks said. “Through this accelerator and fund, the state will further raise its global visibility in marine technology and capitalize on the commercial opportunity in the global aquaculture industry.”

The accelerator will be based at NELHA’s Hawai‘i Ocean Science and Technology Park (HOST Park) in Kailua-Kona on Hawai‘i Island and is expected to start its first cohort in the fall of 2019.

“HOST Park is the perfect playground for innovative minds that are seeking to make a major difference in the field of aquaculture,” said HATCH Chief Executive Officer Carsten Krome. “The world class facilities at NELHA offer perfect conditions for fast prototyping and iterative innovative ideas.”

NEHLA Aerial. Courtey State of Hawai‘i.

“The accelerator is in alignment with many of our existing research and training programs at the University of Hawai‘i,” said UH Vice President for Research and Innovation Vassilis L. Syrmos. “We look forward to playing a significant role in creating a bright future in sustainable aquaculture for the state by helping to develop a skilled, knowledge-based workforce to make it flourish.”

The concept for the accelerator originated as a direct result of recommendations produced by more than 100 participants at the 2017 Hawai‘i Aquaculture Industry Summit. The establishment of the joint accelerator project was made possible through initial funding provided by the Hawai‘i State Legislature and the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture and the Hawai‘i Technology Development Corporation provided additional guidance.

“Many people have come together to make this initiative a reality,” said NELHA Executive Director Gregory Barbour. “We are thrilled by the positive feedback this initiative has generated and look forward to growing the aquaculture tech industry in Hawai‘i.”

Interested startups are encouraged to apply online.

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