Hawaii manufacturing accelerator program launched


Two local experts in manufacturing and product development have co-founded the Startup Connector, a Honolulu-based manufacturing accelerator program.

nakata-kobayashiStartup Connector was created by Bob Nakata and Collin Kobayashi. Nakata was previously the CEO of Kai Sensors/Kai Medical, and before that, headed systems engineering at Verifone. His background also includes wireless technology startups and consulting with venture capital firms on wireless hardware development and due diligence. Kobayashi, meanwhile, heads 3D Innovations, a 3D printing, prototyping, and CAD firm. He is also the co-chair of the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii’s Light Industrial Manufacturing Group, which develops initiatives to promote the growth of Hawaii’s manufacturing industries.

The new accelerator will focus on providing training and mentoring for hardware development companies, assisting both early stage startup and established companies with product development and manufacturing strategies. The plan is to focus on improving their global competitiveness, attracting distributors and direct investment. Teams will also get help with product design, engineering, prototyping and testing for compliance or certification.


“Our main objective is to prepare teams for full scale manufacturing and connect them with distributors and partners to develop sales channel strategies,” Kobayashi said in a press release. “Our program has the unique opportunity of helping Hawaii’s companies commercialize their products.”

“We plan to work with other accelerators to complement their existing programs,” added Nakata.

The duo said that there has been an increase in statewide manufacturing initiatives, prompting them to launch the accellerator to advance technology commercialization activities to support the growing markets of the Pacific Rim. As an entity, Startup Connector will also advocate for policies and legislation that will help Hawaii’s hardware technology community reach new markets and provide growth.

The application process for upcoming cohorts will be announced in December. The selection process will be based upon the company’s technology, growth strategy and team capabilities.

For more information on Startup Connector, please visit www.startup-connector.com. The program is based at the Manoa Innovation Center (2800 Woodlawn Drive, Suite 101, Honolulu, HI 96822).

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