UH innovation officer shares his Hawaii plan

Innovation and networking were on the agenda at a recent Maui TechOhana event in Kihei presented by the Maui Economic Development Board and Hawaii Technology Development Corp.

More than 35 Maui small-business owners and entrepreneurs attended to network and to listen to invited speaker, David Ai, director, Office of Innovation and Commercialization and chief innovation officer of the University of Hawaii System.

Ai detailed how the University of Hawaii plans to work with local constituents to promote innovation and entrepreneurship throughout the state.

“I am thrilled to join the University of Hawaii System, and to help drive the innovation agenda with colleagues on 10 campuses — placing the research institutes under one umbrella,” said Ai. “Hawaii has a long and proud history of diversity, which is the most important ingredient of innovation.”

Pamela Norris, co-founder of Ice Buddy Systems and winner of MEDB’s 2016 InnovateHer competition, attended the presentation.

“He brings a wealth of knowledge and broad practical experience to his position,” said Norris. “Ai’s vision is to upgrade the university’s ability to commercialize research results by students and faculty, in collaboration with community businesses. Businesses can apply for government grants jointly with a university faculty member who may be interested in the endeavor. Moreover, leaders in the community can offer opportunities to apply classroom knowledge to real life business challenges where they partake in community solutions.”

To learn more about Maui TechOhana events, visit www.medb.org.