East Hawaii News

UHERO Report Shows HI Growth Initiative Successes

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The Economic Research Organization at the University of Hawai’i recently conducted a report that shows that a state investment program run by the Hawai’i Strategic Development Corporation, an agency of the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, has aided the startup ecosystem.

UHERO’s report shows that the HI Growth Initiative, which is a state equity investment program, has created jobs and leverages state dollars to encourage private investment. The program was created to promote Hawai’i’s innovation sector and mobilize private capital for local entrepreneurs running high growth businesses.

Within the report, UHERO surveyed 50 businesses, which led them to find that HI Growth Initiative is leading to nearly $12 in private investment for each dollar invested by the state.


In total, in-state expenditures of about $10.8 million and more than 150 Hawai’i-based jobs were generated, according to the survey.

“We need to continue to support innovation to create and environment for entrepreneurs to grow and succeed,” said DBEDT Director Luis Salaveria. “The state’s overall growth strategy focuses on investing in infrastructure, attracting capital and developing talent, which will position Hawai’i to become an innovation and knowledge-based economy.”

Six startup accelerators, six Hawai’i-based venture capital funds, gigabit-enabled co-working spaces, business incubators, research commercialization programs, and events year-round aimed at developing entrepreneurs now make up Hawai’i’s innovation ecosystem, which started four years ago.


“Today’s entrepreneurs work with technology and use digital platforms to compete globally. These knowledge-based businesses need access to equity investment capital,” said HSDC President Karl Fooks. “The HI Growth Initiative helps motivate private investors to bring those capital resources to Hawai’i for local companies.”

The HI Growth Initiative, launched in 2011, currently provides $20 million investment capital, which has in turn generated more than $60 million in additional funding. It began with a $13 million grant from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative.

“By investing in a broad array of accelerator programs, the HI Growth Initiative is facilitating the development of an innovation ecosystem in Hawaii and may finally provide the necessary impetus to draw attention to entrepreneurship in the state, leading to further growth in venture capital, one of the necessary ingredients in a vibrant innovation ecosystem,” said UHERO Executive Director Carl Bonham.


The full report can be viewed online.

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