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    Surfing scientists mapping surf breaks in 3-D for reef research

    MEGA Lab grand opening at Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in Hilo.

    With more than 80 percent of the world’s oceans left unexplored, untouched and unseen by humans, researchers know more about the surface of Mars than the ocean. A University of Hawaii at Hilo professor is helping to fill that knowledge gap by leading a team of scientists to 3D map the planet’s premier surf breaks to help better protect reefs around the world. 

    Professors John H.R. Burns (UH Hilo), Haunani Kane (Arizona State University) and Cliff Kapono (Arizona State University) recently mapped the reef at Kurukuru Mailani in Fiji, also known as Cloudbreak, which is home to some of the biggest and best waves in the world. The team takes high resolution images of the reef and uses a technique called photogrammetry to create 3D reconstructions that can be studied to help provide a better understanding of reef systems. 

    “These models will help us to understand the composition, characteristics and ecology of the reef and these waves that will help us to protect them in the face of disturbances such as sea level rise,” said Burns, an associate professor of marine science at UH Hilo.

    The researchers are skilled surfers and base their work out of the multiscale environmental graphical analysis (MEGA) lab in Hilo. The MEGA Lab specializes in inventing new methods to study coral health and reef formation that influences the shape and speed of waves across the globe. The non-profit is a global consortium of scientists, athletes and artists working together to create innovative solutions to protect the ocean. 

    UH students and alumni Kailey Pascoe (MS, UH Hilo, PhD ASU), Crispin Nakoa (MS, UH Hilo, PhD ASU), Atsuko Fukunaga (MS, UH Mānoa) are analyzing data collected in Fiji and constructing high definition 3D reconstructions in the MEGA Lab. 

    “The 3D maps give us this framework, essentially a basis of the whole system and its structure and then we figure out which specific corals are supporting various types of fish and ultimately we can dissect what elements of the reef give us the food and the resources that we as humans depend on,” said Burns.

    A project is born

    The 3D reef mapping project born out of the MEGA Lab is a collaboration between the Hawaiʻi Island-based lab, surf apparel brand REEF and Surfline, a surf forecast and news website. The project first launched in 2021 at the legendary surf break Banzai Pipeline on Oʻahu’s North Shore. The surfing scientists conducted multiple trips to the North Shore to image the famous surfing spot known for its jagged, sharp reef. 

    “Many funding agencies may see this type of trip as strictly play, but we are doing real science down here,” said Kapono. 

    The team has not disclosed where their next reef research will take place however they do mention looking for possible spots in the South Pacific and aim to include local communities into the research.   

    “It’s important to remember that we are visitors in these places and learn from the Indigenous peoples before we impose our tools on the community,” said Kane.

    More on the MEGA Lab

    This fall, MEGA Lab celebrated the grand opening of its new outreach location at Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in Hilo. The lab is open to the public and provides a space for visitors of all ages to learn and participate in branches of research connected to marine science. 

    “We really want to create an engaging place for people to feel like they can be a part of science. For a while, science hasn’t been the most welcoming environment. It can be somewhat rigid and sterile. We just wanted to flip that script and show students that you can have fun. You can chase your passions. You can be yourself,” said Burns. 

    For more information, visit themegalab.org/livestream.

    Hawaiian Telcom aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030

    Hawaiian Telcom announced that it has set a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 40% by 2030. This target is in line with the latest climate science and Science-Based Target guidelines for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) companies. Hawaiian Telcom is formulating a climate action plan based on this new target for emissions reduction.

    The target 40% emissions reduction by 2030 is also in alignment with the objectives of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to 1.5-degrees Celsius to reduce the risks and effects of climate change. Hawaiian Telcom also publicly released its greenhouse gas emissions inventory for 2021, which will form its baseline for reductions. Hawaiian Telcom’s long-term target is to reduce GHG emissions to net-zero by 2040.

    “Preserving our environment and enhancing our sustainability as an island state is important for all of us who call Hawai‘i home,” said Su Shin, President and General Manager of Hawaiian Telcom. “Hawaiian Telcom is doing its part to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, working towards replacing our copper lines with energy efficient fiber-optic cables across our islands. Fiber technology provides a superior customer experience and reduces our energy consumption.”

    “It’s a critical time to act boldly to reduce our emissions,” said Nadja Turek, Director for Sustainability for Hawaiian Telcom and its parent company Altafiber (formerly Cincinnati Bell). “Our mission is to provide high-speed, reliable communications to our neighbors and businesses free from pollution, and to add value to the communities we serve.

    About Hawaiian Telcom

    Hawaiian Telcom, established and headquartered in Honolulu since 1883, offers a full range of services to business and residential customers including Internet, video, voice, data network solutions and security, colocation, and managed and cloud services – all supported by the reach and reliability of its next generation fiber network and 24/7 state-of-the-art network operations center. For more information, visit hawaiiantel.com.

    Photo by kazuend on Unsplash.

    Elemental Excelerator unveils 17 startups in latest cohort

    Elemental Excelerator, a climate tech investor for more than a decade, today announced the 11th cohort of startup companies in which it is investing.

    These 17 industry-leading technology firms enable system-wide decarbonization, support communities to become more climate resilient and redesign built environments, bringing Elemental’s portfolio – one of the most robust climate tech portfolios in industry – to a total of 151 startups.

    “Today we welcome 17 teams working to redraw the big picture around our largest-emitting sectors and meaningfully collaborate with communities tackling climate change,” Elemental Founder & CEO Dawn Lippert said. “Entering our second decade of climate investing, we are betting on entrepreneurs tackling major sources of emissions—like shipping, air conditioning, transportation and construction—and working with every company to deploy successfully in local communities.”

    This new group tips Elemental’s total number of portfolio companies above 150. To date, Elemental’s work has led to more than 119 primarily first-of-a-kind climate tech projects spanning 16 countries and this year expands by adding companies from India and Mexico to its portfolio. Notably for Cohort 11, Elemental is diving deeper into technologies in maritime, ports, air conditioning and affordable housing.

    “Our communities and climate need zero-emission solutions for heavy duty goods movement—and Forum’s goal is to make it simple, reliable and cost-effective for fleets and drivers. It’s a complex challenge, and as much as we benefit from Elemental’s deep experience, we’re also enjoying working in concert with the broader Elemental ecosystem of amazing entrepreneurs,” Forum Mobility CEO Matt LeDucq said.

    Elemental’s investment model is distinct from conventional investment in that it has centered impact and communities from its inception. It was built to ensure that massive incentives for innovation translate into commercialization and community impact that benefit communities and tech builders alike. With 26 exits to date and an exit rate of 17%, Elemental has a proven track record demonstrating the scalability of this approach.

    Including Cohort 11, Elemental has now awarded more than $57M to its portfolio, and those companies have gone on to raise $7B in follow-on funding. Every dollar Elemental has invested has catalyzed more than $100 in follow-on investment across the portfolio.

    Climate Resilience: Equitable solutions that can bolster resilience and enable a healthy, thriving planet for all.

    • Future Acres builds autonomous tools to carry farms into the future. The why: Labor issues — ranging from farmworker shortages to reduced hours from rising temperatures — are among the biggest challenges in our food systems.
    • Hohonu provides real-time environmental monitoring to inform community-level action. The why: Rising sea levels will put $100B worth of U.S. property in jeopardy by 2050.
    • Mythos AI’s autonomous vessel technologies will foster resilient ports and reduce emissions by helping ships navigate safely and load cargo accurately. The why: While 80-90% of global trade is transported by sea, maritime shipping is one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonize.
    • Nitricity distributes and electrifies the production of fertilizer. The why: Between production and application in the field, nitrogen fertilizer is currently responsible for over 2% of global emissions.
    • Transaera helps air conditioners use 50% less energy than conventional AC. The why: Air conditioning units, already accounting for 4% of global emissions, are expected to quadruple to 4.5 billion by 2050.

    Zero Carbon: Solutions to transition away from fossil fuels and remove atmospheric carbon.

    • Creative Food Labs tackles agricultural waste by upcycling it into new food ingredients through a low-energy fermentation process. The why: Roughly 60 million dry tons of crop residue are produced in Mexico each year, representing an enormous opportunity to avoid emissions.
    • Energy Dome’s CO2 battery enables efficient, long-duration energy storage. The why: The ability to store energy from intermittent sources like solar and wind for prolonged periods has long been a missing piece of the decarbonization puzzle.
    • Forum Mobility provides zero emission fleet services in the heavy-duty transportation market. The why: More than 39 million people — disproportionately low-income residents and people of color — are exposed to hazardous diesel pollution near ports.
    • NÜWIEL makes smart, electric trailers for bikes to transform last-mile delivery operations. The why: Booming e-commerce growth by 2030 is projected to increase emissions from last-mile deliveries by over 30%.
    • Origen produces zero-carbon lime, which can be used to remove billions of tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. The why: This is a dual-threat climate solution, decarbonizing a mega-emitting industry (responsible for 400M tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year) while enabling gigaton-scale carbon removal.
    • Vesta protects coastlines and amplifies the ocean’s natural ability to absorb CO2. The why: Natural rock weathering has been removing CO2 for billions of years. At full scale, coastal carbon capture could permanently and affordably remove more than a gigaton of CO2 from the atmosphere every year.

    Built Environment: Solutions based around localization and circularity to modernize infrastructure and materials.

    • Banyan Infrastructure’s project finance platform makes it faster, easier and more financially rewarding to invest in climate solutions and sustainable infrastructure. The why: In order to solve the climate crisis, investment in sustainable infrastructure must grow from $1T to $6T per year.
    • Community Energy Labs builds simple, affordable energy management technologies for community buildings such as schools, universities, and government buildings. The why: K12 schools spend $6B+ annually on energy — more than on computers and textbooks combined.
    • DigitalPaani’s operational intelligence platform unlocks wastewater’s potential to meet local water needs and build climate resilience. The why: Treating and reusing wastewater can meet 65% of urban water needs.
    • Modulous digitizes design and reimagines construction logistics to build locally-sourced, sustainable, affordable homes. The why: The buildings and construction sector are responsible for 39% of energy and process-related CO2 emissions.
    • MOLG tackles the growing e-waste problem by making manufacturing circular. The why: 57 million tons of e-waste are generated annually — outweighing the Great Wall of China — and only 17% gets recycled.
    • Oonee’s network of modular bike parking, charging and service stations help bicycling become a dominant mode of getting around cities. The why: As 50% of car trips in the U.S. are under three miles, cities can decarbonize transportation by creating infrastructure networks for bicycles, scooters and other sustainable modes of transportation.

    About Elemental Excelerator

    Elemental Excelerator is a leading non-profit investor focused on scaling climate solutions and social impact for all communities. Elemental fills two gaps that are fundamental to tackling climate change: funding first-of-a-kind projects for climate technologies in real communities, and embedding equity and access into climate solutions.

    Solar company cofounded by Iolani School grad acquired by Japanese firm

    Community solar company Solstice Power Technologies, cofounded by Iolani School graduate Stephanie Speirs, has been acquired by MyPower Corp.—an affiliate of Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co., Ltd.

    Stephanie Spiers

    Based in Cambridge, Mass., Solstice is a mission-driven service provider specialized in customer management for community solar development. The acquisition unites Solstice’s reputable, community-driven brand with MyPower’s access to strong corporate resources and complementary business lines.

    The acquisition of Solstice enables MyPower to expand further into the U.S. community solar market in order to address today’s energy and sustainability challenges.

    Solstice is an Elemental Excelerator portfolio company.

    Distributed solar energy and storage development has increased dramatically in the U.S., protecting many homeowners from rising utility rates, and that growth is expected to continue in the coming years. However, 77% of Americans are still unable to participate in rooftop solar. This includes renters and households who may not qualify due to credit scores, incomes below minimum thresholds, structural issues in their homes, lack of rooftop space, or inadequate sun exposure.

    Community solar bridges that gap, providing the opportunity for more households to access local clean energy with monthly savings on their electricity bill.

    Solstice was founded on the belief that every household can be powered by affordable renewable energy. By connecting households across the country to community solar, Solstice has enabled greater energy equity in communities and charted a path toward a future in which clean energy works for everyone, regardless of their income level or credit score. MyPower brings robust corporate resources to support nationwide expansion for Solstice and deliver additional value to communities through its commercial clean energy offerings.

    “We at Solstice remain committed as ever to making renewable energy accessible and affordable for all,” Speirs said. “By joining MyPower Corp., we’ll leverage the stability and strength of the respected global company that is Mitsui to deepen our resources, expand into new markets, develop new services, and continue delivering on the promises that we’ve made to the communities we serve.

    “Solar energy is a resource that should be enjoyed by all who want access,” she added. “Together with MyPower, Solstice will accelerate the deployment of clean energy to a broader range of customers.”

    Solstice Initiative, Solstice’s current nonprofit arm, will not be acquired by MyPower and will operate as an independent 501c3 under a new brand to be announced shortly.

    “We are very pleased to welcome Solstice, a company that has deeply engaged with communities and customers and has been providing community solar across the United States,” stated Katsu Nishida, Co-CEO of MyPower. “Our mission is to create an eco-friendly society through the development and deployment of clean energy solutions and related services.

    “Inclusion of all eligible customers, including those in low- to moderate-income communities, is now more important than ever in the pursuit of sustainability and energy equity,” Nishida continued. “Solstice has demonstrated that it can contribute to that, proven by the fact that more end-users and community solar project owners are choosing Solstice.”

    About Solstice Power Technologies

    Solstice Power Technologies is a leading U.S. customer acquisition and management service provider in community solar. Originally based in Cambridge, MA, Solstice was founded in 2016 by women co-founders who believe every community can be powered by renewable energy. Solstice is dedicated to bringing affordable solar power to the 77% of American households that cannot support a rooftop system. Community solar offers a solution, enabling residents to support local clean energy at no upfront cost and save money on their electric bill every year. Solstice offers customer solutions for the community solar industry – enrolling households and local organizations in shared projects, creating financing innovations that expand access to underserved communities, and providing a frictionless subscriber management software platform for projects. For more information, visit https://solstice.us/.

    About MyPower Corp.

    MyPower Corp. is a 100% affiliate of Mitsui & Co., Ltd., a global energy infrastructure and investment leader with a robust balance sheet and an “A” credit rating from Standard & Poor’s. MyPower is an investment arm primarily focused on energy and sustainability management. Led by a small and nimble group of mission-driven professionals, MyPower plans to expand its portfolio to create a clean and sustainable energy ecosystem by serving a diverse customer base with both individual and holistic solutions. For more information, visit www.mypowercorp.com.

    DRFortress Expands Data Center to Meet Accelerated Demand

    DRFortress, the largest carrier-neutral data center and cloud marketplace operating in Hawaii, announced today that it has commenced construction for further expansion to its data center campus in Honolulu, helping to support the region’s evolving technology needs. The new development will add 200 cabinets for a total of 800 cabinets available to lease and a space of nearly 65,000 square feet.

    As Hawaii’s digital hub and largest business network, the expansion will also provide new features to support the company’s growing number of enterprise customers. This includes a customer training and conference room that can accommodate up to 40 people, two multi-purpose customer kiosks, and a coffee bar and snack area with available workstations. The spaces were built specifically for customers to host events or group trainings as well as serve as a secure business continuity office space in the case of an unexpected disaster.

    “Our customers and the Hawaiian business community are always at the center of every decision we make, and this fourth facility expansion is no different,” said Rosa White, Co-President and Founder of DRFortress. “These new additions to our campus enable our customers to continue operating at the highest levels while we simultaneously provide our comprehensive, state-of-the-art colocation and cloud solutions. For the last 16 years, we have invested in our flagship data center and seen exponential growth – we’re excited to see what the future holds.”

    Since 2006, the DRFortress data center has completed three expansions and grown its customer base, space and power capacity almost tenfold. Backed by a team with 100+ cumulative years of industry expertise, the Honolulu-based facility is the largest data center and cloud marketplace in Hawaii and is one of the most respected data center infrastructures in the U.S. DRFortress offers an unmatched footprint, service portfolio, experience, and skillset to deliver connectivity, cloud, CDN, and business continuity to Hawaiian businesses.

    To learn more about the expansion for Hawaii customers, visit www.drfortress.com.

    About DRFortress

    DRFortress is Hawaii’s largest carrier-neutral data center and cloud computing services provider operating in Hawaii since 2006. Based in Honolulu, the DRFortress world-class data center facility is currently a 55,000+ square foot facility with 600 racks available for colocation. As Hawaii’s Digital Hub and largest business network, DRFortress houses the densest concentration of IP carriers and networks in Hawaii. In addition to hosting the largest commercial Internet Exchange in the state, DRFortress also offers Cloud Connect services with dedicated private connections to the leading global public clouds. For more information, please visit www.drfortress.com.  

    Paubox unveils latest slate of scholarship winners

    Nine Native Hawaiian students were selected to this year’s Paubox Kahikina STEM Scholarship. The primary objective of the scholarship is to encourage Native Hawaiians to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Recurring in nature, the Paubox Kahikina STEM Scholarship awards recipients $1,000 per year until they graduate.

    Starting with a single recipient in 2019, there are now 22 concurrent scholarship recipients.

    Paubox is a leading provider of HIPAA compliant communication and marketing solutions for healthcare organizations, including hospitals, medical practices, mental health facilities and other covered entities.

    The 2022 scholarship winners are:

    • Kapaeloa Aki, a graduate of Kamehameha Schools Hawaii, now attendingBrigham Young University–Hawaii majoring in computer science
    • Miranda Burigsay, a graduate of Kamehameha Schools Kapalama, now attending Creighton University majoring in nursing
    • Dylan Dinio, a graduate of Iolani School, now attending Northeastern University majoring in computer science and game design
    • Montana Lagat, a graduate of Kamehameha Schools Hawaii, now attending Stanford University majoring in chemical engineering
    • Taylor Moniz, a graduate of Kamehameha Schools Kapalama, now attending Columbia University majoring in neuroscience
    • Bryan Pontanilla, a graduate of Maui High School, now attendingPortland State University majoring in architecture
    • Allena Villanueva, a graduate of Punahou School, now attending the University of Southern California majoring in computer science
    • Harlee Wong, a graduate of Kapolei High School, now attending Chaminade University majoring in forensic science
    • Shaley Yoshizu, a graduate of Kamehameha Schools Kapalama, now attending Penn State University–Harrisburg majoring in micro/human biology

    “Congratulations to the 2022 class of Paubox Kahikina STEM Scholarship recipients. They are joining an esteemed network of young professionals pursuing careers in STEM,”  said Hoala Greevy, Founder CEO of Paubox. “It’s well documented there are economic barriers to education for many Native Hawaiians, and our scholarship aims to address this on two fronts. The first is recurring financial aid and the second is access to our expanding network of seasoned professionals in STEM.”

    Scholarship recipients will receive $1,000 per year until they graduate from college (with a maximum of $5,000).

    About Paubox

    Paubox, based in San Francisco, is a leader in HIPAA compliant communication and marketing solutions for healthcare organizations. Launched in 2015, Paubox is on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing privately owned companies. According to G2 rankings, Paubox leads the industry for Best Secure Email Gateway, Email Security, HIPAA Compliant Messaging Software and Email Encryption solution.  Its suite of solutions includes Paubox Email Suite, Paubox Marketing and Paubox Email API. Paubox customers include AdaptHealth, Curative, Summit Health and The Queen’s Health Systems. For more information, visit Paubox.com.

    Students given insight into tech, startup careers

    Photo by Trung Lam.

    More than 130 University of Hawaii students were able to get real-world advice from 30 local tech and startup professionals on getting into the tech industry.

    The “Talk Story with Tech Professionals” event was organized by ThriveHI, a new organization focused on growing Hawaii’s startup and tech scene.

    UH President David Lassner opened the event, talking about his computer science background and his desire to help students get a strong start on their career path. Afterward, speakers from companies like Amazon, Google, and Servco gave quick introductions. Students were then able to hear and ask questions about career paths ranging from software engineering, cyber-security, product management, data science, business operations, and entrepreneurship.

    “This is a great opportunity for these students because of the fact that it gives exposure to what they are able to do, and be able to apply what they learned and see that they are not restricted to one thing such as software engineering,” said Amanda Nitta, a UH Mānoa senior majoring in computer science and data science. “They have so many other capabilities within them to do interdisciplinary work and have different mindsets going into the workforce.”

    Nitta, who also serves as and vice president and chief of operations for the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) at UH Mānoa, was one of the event’s student organizers and gained knowledge about how to apply data science and management in a future career.

    “Students were inspired by these professionals and learned that there are more opportunities and there are countless ways that they can employ their capabilities in the work force here in Hawaii,” Nitta said.

    Students were able to meet face to face with tech professionals and get advice on how to succeed in the industry. Photo by Alyssia Chen.

    Many of the tech professionals featured at the event are remote workers for companies based on the continental U.S. Computer science student Kanai Gooding, president of the ACM, said there is often a disparity between salaries offered by those companies and salaries offered by companies based in Hawaii.

    “This is just one of the many aspects that we are trying to attack the problem with,” Gooding said. “One of our big asks for the professionals here was, ‘Hey, we’re going to have the students ask you your salary. Please be ok with us asking and you answering,’” Gooding said. “Hopefully that spreads loudly across the community.”

    Gooding said he wants to see Hawaii-based companies can match the salaries of their continental U.S.-based counterparts.

    One of the speakers was Kevin Shin, a senior software engineer at LinkedIn who graduated from UH Mānoa in 2014 with a degree in mechanical engineering, before pursuing a graduate degree at Stanford University.

    He said his goal for the event was “to let the students know that there is a path to tech and people from Hawaiʻi can make it. There are a bunch out here doing it.”

    ThriveHI co-founder Rich Matsui observed that the conventional wisdom used to be that you had to leave Hawaii to make it in the tech industry.

    “With remote work as the new norm alongside Hawaii’s growing tech scene, that sentiment isn’t as relevant anymore,” Matsui said. “Our team felt like this was the perfect opportunity to show the next generation that there’s also a vast world of high-paying tech jobs out there

    The event was held at Kuykendall Hall on UH Manoa’s campus and organized in partnership with the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) at the Shidler School of Business, the Association for Computing Machinery, and Builders VC.

    “Students at the University of Hawaii are just as capable of taking on tech careers, including tech-centered entrepreneurship, as their mainland counterparts,” said PACE Executive Director Sandra Fujiyama. “Because of Hawaii’s distance from major technological hubs, however, local students may be learning about these careers from the internet or other secondhand sources.

    “PACE, along with ThriveHI, ACM@Mānoa and Builders VC, recognized the need to close that gap and connect students directly to people who know what it is to work in tech today,” she said.

    Fujiyama said PACE looks forward to continue working with ThriveHI and ACM to “create a thriving innovation ecosystem for Hawaii.”

    “We are grateful for the initiative and engagement by ThriveHI and the more than 30 tech-professionals, including software engineers, founders, product managers and cybersecurity experts, who came to campus last night to share their knowledge and experience with more than 100 students from a diverse set of backgrounds,” Fujiyama added. “The place was buzzing with activity, connections were made, careers were shaped and doors of opportunity were opened.”

    ThriveHI Tech Career Event
    Click the photo above to view the full album of photos from the event by Alyssia Chen.

    About ThriveHI

    ThriveHI is on a mission to move Hawaii from surviving to thriving by making a sustainable, resilient, and economically abundant local tech and entrepreneurship ecosystem. ThriveHI connects the necessary people, organizations, and capital to catalyze growth in Hawaii’s tech scene. Currently, they publish a biweekly newsletter and host events regarding Hawaii’s startup and tech scene with the intention to expand their offerings in the future. Learn more at: www.thrivehi.org

    About PACE

    The Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE), established in 2000 at the Shidler College of Business, is the central unit that coordinates and offers educational opportunities for entrepreneurship, innovation, and commercialization to students at all 10 campuses of the University of Hawai‘i System (UH). The Center’s comprehensive portfolio of programs offers mentorship, training, and resources, and is designed to encourage entrepreneurial thinking across disciplines and inspire entrepreneurs to move their ideas from conceptualization to commercialization.

    About ACM

    The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) at the University of Hawaii at Manoa is a chapter of the national professional computer science organization. ACM strives to facilitate opportunities and fellowship amongst its members. While also exposing students to how they are able to apply their capabilities beyond code and expand their knowledge of what the field is beyond the classroom with an emphasis on teaching through fellowship.

    About Builders VC

    Builders VC is an early-stage venture capital firm focused on investing where technology meets new business models to modernize antiquated industries. Areas of interest include platform companies fixing Agriculture, Real Estate & Construction, Health IT, and Industrials. Builders is focused on improving Hawaii by engaging Hawaii founders, tech talent, key stakeholders, and capital providers for local startup ecosystem expansion, economic diversification, and job creation.

    UH astronomers measure distances to 56,000 galaxies

    How old is our universe, and what is its size? A team of researchers led by University of Hawaii at Mānoa astronomers Brent Tully and Ehsan Kourkchi from the Institute for Astronomy have assembled the largest-ever compilation of high-precision galaxy distances, called Cosmicflows-4. Using eight different methods, they measured the distances to a whopping 56,000 galaxies. The study has been published in the Astrophysical Journal.  

    Galaxies, such as the Milky Way, are the building blocks of the universe, each comprised of up to several hundred billion stars. Galaxies beyond our immediate neighborhood are rushing away, faster if they are more distant, which is a consequence of the expansion of the universe that began at the moment of the Big Bang. Measurements of the distances of galaxies, coupled with information about their velocities away from us, determine the scale of the universe and the time that has elapsed since its birth.

    “Since galaxies were identified as separate from the Milky Way a hundred years ago, astronomers have been trying to measure their distances,” said Tully. “Now by combining our more accurate and abundant tools, we are able to measure distances of galaxies, and the related expansion rate of the universe and the time since the universe was born with a precision of a few percent.”

    Full-sky map showing Cosmicflows-4’s 56,000 galaxies with distance measurements.

    From the newly published measurements, the researchers derived the expansion rate of the universe, called the Hubble Constant, or H0. The team’s study gives a value of H0=75 kilometers per second per megaparsec or Mpc (1 megaparsec = 3.26 million light years), with very small statistical uncertainty of about 1.5%. 

    There are a number of ways to measure galaxy distances. Generally, individual researchers focus on an individual method. The Cosmicflows program spearheaded by Tully and Kourkchi includes their own original material from two methods, and additionally incorporates information from many previous studies. Because Cosmicflows-4 includes distances derived from a variety of independent, distinct distance estimators, intercomparisons should mitigate against a large systematic error.

    Cosmic dilemma

    Astronomers have assembled a framework that shows the universe’s age to be a little more than 13 billion years old, however a dilemma of great significance has arisen in the details. 

    Physics of the evolution of the universe based on the standard model of cosmology predicts H0=67.5 km/s/Mpc, with an uncertainty of 1 km/s/Mpc.  The difference between the measured and predicted values for the Hubble Constant is 7.5 km/s/Mpc—much more than can be expected given the statistical uncertainties. Either there is a fundamental problem with our understanding of the physics of the cosmos, or there is a hidden systematic error in the measurements of galaxy distances.

    Additional studies 

    Cosmicflows-4 is also being used to study how galaxies move individually, in addition to flowing with the overall expansion of the universe. Deviations from this smooth expansion arise due to the gravitational influences of clumps of matter, on scales ranging from our Earth and Sun up to congregations of galaxies on scales of a half billion light years. The mysterious dark matter is the dominant component on larger scales. With knowledge of the motions of galaxies in response to the mass around them, we can recreate the orbits that galaxies have followed since they were formed, giving us a better understanding of how the universe’s vast, dark-matter dominated structures have formed over the eons of time.

    Bank of Hawaii, Mana Up partner to foster island entrepreneurship

    Hawaii product accelerator Mana Up and Bank of Hawaii today announced a partnership designed to fuel the growth and success of Hawaii’s entrepreneurs.

    Bank of Hawaii will become the exclusive banking partner at the Mana Up “Founder Level” to effectuate key strategic programs—including a new mentorship program as well as a content collaboration for local entrepreneur stories—as part of a shared vision to diversify the local economy for generations to come.

    In addition to supporting the annual accelerator program, Bank of Hawaii will co-create with Mana Up an executive mentorship and training program to propel local companies to the next level. The annual initiative will match 10 Mana Up alumni companies with executive mentors from Bank of Hawaii based on specialized areas of growth.

    This critical program will provide leadership and business maturation content to entrepreneurs while offering the executive mentors the opportunity to extend their expertise for the community at large.

    Meanwhile, leveraging Bank of Hawaii’s extensive reach in Hawaii and beyond, Mana Up and Bank of Hawaii will co-develop campaigns that highlight Hawaii’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem through deep storytelling. Moreover, a collaborative “Shop Local” feature on the Bank of Hawaii website will offer everyone the benefits of shopping with Hawai’i-based businesses that grow the economy, create jobs, and invest in giveback initiatives of their own.

    “Small businesses and the hardworking individuals behind them are the heartbeat of our community,” says Bank of Hawaii Chairman, President and CEO Peter Ho. “We’re excited to support Mana Up and have our executives partner directly with local entrepreneurs to help guide them on their entrepreneurial journey.”

    “We all have a stake in Hawaii’s economic future. We are excited and grateful to share a vision with Bank of Hawaii in high-potential industries for Hawaii that are aligned with community values and benefit locals for the long-term,” says Meli James, co-founder of Mana Up.

    “Partnering with Bank of Hawaii will be a tremendous leap in accomplishing this vision because they are contributing their expert knowledge to the next generation of the economy.”

    Bank of Hawaii will also be recognized as the community partner for Hawaii Rising, a program led by Build Native with Shopify and Mana Up designed to grow e-commerce revenues for indigenous-identifying and Native Hawaiian owned businesses.

    About Mana Up

    Mana Up is an accelerator and venture fund for Hawaiʻi-based products growing to markets globally, with the mission to increase economic opportunity and jobs for the people of Hawaii. To date, 74 local companies have participated in the six-month accelerator program that provides expansion opportunities and helps solve business challenges.

    About Bank of Hawaii

    Bank of Hawaii was incorporated on Dec. 17, 1897, and 125 years later the bank and its subsidiaries serve businesses, consumers and governments in Hawaii, Guam, Saipan and Palau, and offers a wide range of financial products and services. Bank of Hawaii remains steadfast in its commitment to supporting the communities it serves.

    University of Hawaii selected for national research network

    Photo by CDC on Unsplash

    A $1 million award from the National Science Foundation will help the University of Hawaii convert its world-class research into solutions with public impact.

    UH has been selected as part of a new National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps (I-Corps) Hub, joining seven other universities—Arizona State University (lead); University of Arizona; Northern Arizona University; University of California, San Diego; Boise State University; University of Idaho; and University of Nevada, Las Vegas—to form the Desert and Pacific region NSF I-Corps Hub, one of five newly-funded hubs.

    “Becoming an NSF I-Corps Hub creates a major opportunity for UH and Hawaii to elevate, grow and diversify the state’s innovation ecosystem and economy,” said Vassilis L. Syrmos, UH vice president for research and innovation. “This partnership is perfectly aligned with our strategic initiative to drive economic diversification and development across the state through research, innovation, entrepreneurship and technology.”

    The purpose of NSF I-Corps Hubs is to accelerate the translation of discoveries into new solutions that will benefit society. Each hub is responsible for supporting academic researchers in science and engineering by:

    • Creating and implementing tools, resources and training activities that enhance the nation’s innovation capacity;
    • Identifying, developing and supporting promising research that can generate economic value;
    • Gathering, analyzing, evaluating, and utilizing the data and insights resulting from the experiences of those participating in local, regional and national I-Corps programs;
    • Providing opportunities to diverse communities of innovators; and
    • Sharing and leveraging effective innovation practices on a national scale to impact economic growth and improve quality of life throughout the nation.

    The NSF I-Corps team in Hawaii will be led by the UH Office of Innovation and Commercialization (OIC). The team will include:

    • Vassilis L. Syrmos, UH vice president of research and innovation;
    • Debasis Bhattacharya, UH Maui College Applied Business and Information Technology associate professor;
    • Bardia Konh, UH Mānoa College of Engineering assistant professor;
    • Steve Auerbach, OIC interim director; and
    • Rebecca Chung, OIC technology licensing officer and innovation programs manager.

    UH OIC will be seeking subject matter experts, mentors and instructors to join the NSF National Innovation Network in Hawaii to support NSF I-Corps experiential training and networking opportunities. The NSF I-Corps program and initiatives will be incorporated into OIC commercialization services and programs, including HITIDE, a UH System innovation incubator, and others.

    “This unique opportunity will complement and strengthen our programs and initiatives at UH, and help us cultivate an innovation and entrepreneurship culture, ecosystem and economy across the state,” Auerbach said. “Having an NSF I-Corps presence in Hawaii also allows us to better contextualize NSF I-Corps training, resources and opportunities for our local academic researchers and entrepreneurs.”

    The NSF I-Corps program was launched in 2011 to support NSF’s mission through experiential learning using the customer discovery process—allowing teams to quickly assess their inventions’ market potential. I-Corps prepares scientists and engineers to extend their focus beyond the laboratory to increase the economic and societal impact of NSF-funded and other basic research projects. I-Corps is unique, advancing society by: increasing U.S. economic competitiveness; enhancing academic and industry partnerships; and commercializing cutting-edge technologies. For more information about NSF I-Corps, visit NSF’s website.

    About the Office of Innovation and Commercialization

    The University of Hawai‘i Office of Innovation and Commercialization works to inspire and support UH innovations and entrepreneurs in bringing ideas and discoveries to the marketplace to make an impact. Under the Office of the Vice President of Research and Innovation, OIC manages, protects, commercializes and markets UH intellectual property and technology assets developed across its 10 campuses statewide. For more information about OIC and its programs and services, visit research.hawaii.edu/oic

    About UH Research

    Research conducted by the University of Hawai‘i impacts the quality of life in the islands and around the world. As the state’s major research university, and because of Hawai‘i’s tremendous geographic diversity, UH plays a prominent role in the state’s economic growth and development through its diverse and world-renowned research programs in astronomy, earth and ocean sciences, medicine and tropical agriculture. research.hawaii.edu. 

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