East Hawaii News

$500K Award to UH Accelerator For Statewide Outreach

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University of Hawai'i photo.

University of Hawai’i photo.

A $500,000 award was recently given to the University of Hawai’i’s proof of concept center/venture accelerator XLR8UH.

The grant came from the Economic Development Administration and will be used to expand commercialization efforts statewide, which includes underserved rural communities on neighbor islands.

XLR8UH was launched in 2014 and is the first of its kind proof of concept center/venue accelerator. The accelerator was developed by the University of Hawai’i with Sultan Ventures, a boutique venture firm that also manages it.


The proof of concept center educates, mentors, and invests in UH research and talent, ranging from students to post docs, faculty, and alumni.

“We are pleased that the EDA recognized the value and promise of our XLR8UH program,” said Vassilis L. Syrmos, UH vice president for research and innovation. “The University of Hawaiʻi will be matching the EDA award to amplify even more of XLR8UH’s reach in extending our research innovation and commercialization efforts across the state.”

Grant funds are part of the EDA’s 2015 Regional Innovation Strategies Program, which is a federal program that support initiatives to spur innovation commercialization, entrepreneurship, and job creation at the local level.


XLR8UH is one of just 17 i6 Challenge awardees to receive grants totaling $8 million. The funding will enable XLR8UH to introduce new activities utilizing regionally developed intellectual property, entrepreneurs and startups.

“Our XLR8UH program is a vital component of our work to advance the Hawaiʻi Innovation Initiative, and this significant grant from the EDA, following on our recognition by the SBA validates the confidence in our new directions,” said UH President David Lassner. “By developing talented entrepreneurs from among our faculty and students and fortifying the innovation ecosystem at UH, we are playing a key role in Hawaiʻi’s efforts to diversify our economy, create high-quality jobs and build the foundation for new revenue sources.”

In 2015, XLR8UH was recognized as one of the nation’s leading accelerators by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition.

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