Design community to focus on homeless

The local homeless population is incredibly diverse, and a unified visual language could help human services agencies and other community groups cross language barriers in reaching those in need. On Saturday, civic-minded geeks will come together to explore the creation of universal symbols to serve the homeless and those who work with them at Hawaii’s first IconLocal.

IconLocals are local design workshops supported by The Noun Project, an international movement to build a global visual language that everyone can understand. IconLocal events have been held in cities across the country with partners ranging from the American Red Cross to the New York Times. They have tackled topics ranging from energy to agriculture to human rights.

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Local startup aims to help other startups

Is it possible to grow a bootstrapped tech startup in Hawaii? A new boutique solutions and product-focused tech business, Sudokrew Solutions, is looking to answer this question.

Sudokrew is led by local talent Jason Sewell and Spencer Toyama. Sewell is the former lead developer for Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, and Toyama is the former operations director of Kinetiq Labs and the Pele-Award winning Agency Collaborative.

“There are many incredible web developers and designers in Hawaii building the front-facing websites for our local community, and we really want to differentiate our services by focusing on development and enterprise solutions.” stated Spencer Toyama.

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Entrepreneur, Deal of the Year awards announced

The Hawaii Venture Capital Association awarded its 2012 HVCA Deal of the Year to Darren Kimura, CEO of Sopogy, maker of concentrated thermal solar collectors. In addition five local entrepreneurs were acknowledged in various categories with the HVCA Entrepreneur of the Year award.

The Young Entrepreneur award went to Scott Mercer of Volta Industries, makers of advertising driven free electric vehicle charging stations. Dan Leuck, co-founder of CONTIX and CEO and founder of Ikayzo won the Software Entrepreneur award. Ken Berkun, founder of Labels That Talk won the Inventor Entrepreneur award for his patented invention, Soundpaper. Winner of the Socially Responsible Entrepreneur of the Year award is Elyse Petersen, founder of Tealet, a social enterprise that connects tea drinkers with small tea growers around the world. David Watumull, co-founder of CARDAX Pharmaceuticals and former CEO of Hawaii Biotech was acknowledged for his many years of devoted entrepreneurship in biotech as the 2012 Legacy Entrepreneur.

“These entrepreneurs are local heroes and role models. They have worked long hard days, made personal sacrifices and taken extreme risks that prove there are people in Hawaii that have what it takes to build great companies,” said Bill Spencer, President of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association.

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Digital Government Summit explores Hawaii tech roadmap

Nearly 700 state employees, community leaders and members of the public joined Governor Neil Abercrombie today for the 2012 Hawaii Digital Government Summit at the Hilton Hawaiian Village to engage employees and other stakeholders in the state’s business and information technology transformation initiative.

Presented by Government Technology Executive Events and the Center for Digital Government – at no cost to the state – the event featured more than 20 sessions on topics ranging from modernization of public schools to health information technology.

“Transformation of state government is about delivering the services people need – anywhere, anytime,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie. “Hawaii’s IT Transformation Plan, launched in October, will accomplish its goals by investing in the state’s greatest asset – its employees. Making government more efficient and effective brings opportunities to those who work in state offices, enabling employees to provide a higher level of service while attaining new skills and playing a role in reshaping the way government conducts business. This will help us to strengthen our economy, sustain Hawaii for future generations and build public confidence in government.”

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Navy powers up city’s largest solar facility

An official “Flip the Switch” ceremony and Hawaiian blessing was held today to mark the completion of more than 4,300 solar panels installed at the Pearl City Solar Energy Facility. Capable of generating 1.23 megawatts of electricity, it is now the newest and largest utility-scale solar photovoltaic project on O’ahu.

This project marks the fourth utility-scale solar facility that developer Forest City Hawaii has completed in Honolulu, making it one of the largest renewable-energy developers and owners in the state.

At today’s ceremony, Jennifer Sabas, chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, praised the project’s vision, and Governor Neil Abercrombie commended the project for advancing the state’s clean energy goals. These sentiments were echoed by other event attendees, including Jerrod Schreck, president of Hoku Solar, and Connie Lau, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries, chairman of Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. and chairman of American Savings Bank.

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BizGym partners with Hong Kong accelerator

BizGym.com, an online rapid business plan building program based in Hawaii, has formed a partnership with CyberPort, the largest information technology accellerator in Hong Kong. The relationship was sparked by BizGym.com’s recent partnership in “Hawaii Tech Asia,” a business development tour organized by Hawaii Business and Entrepreneur Acceleration Mentors (HiBeam).

The two companies will create a Chinese language version of the BizGym online entrepreneur’s toolset, branding it as the “Cyberport Business System powered by BizGym.” It will feature team-matching, collaborative business planning and a direct link to Cyberport’s micro-fund application process. Operations will begin by year-end in Hong Kong and mainland China.

Cyberport is a government-owned enterprise, and when breaking news of the partnership on Hawaii Public Radio’s Bytemarks Cafe show last week, BizGym.com founder Steve Sue said that the co-branded arrangement with a prominent Hong Kong organization will likely discourage copycats from diluting the BizGym.com model in Asia.

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HECO streamlines solar power installation requirements

It will now be faster and simpler for many residential and some small commercial customers to receive approval for on-site solar photovoltaic installations without worrying about the need for a possible interconnection study, Hawaiian Electric announced today.

As of October 1, most residential and some commercial customers of Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, and Hawaii Electric Light Company can install certified single-phase PV systems up to 10 kW on single-phase transformers and participate in Net Energy Metering (NEM) with no interconnection study.

In addition, any customer of the three companies who paid for an interconnection study and system upgrades to install a 10 kW or smaller single-phase PV system will be refunded the cost of the study and any upgrades.

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Five local nonprofits awarded $427,000 from Island Innovation Fund

The Hawaii Community Foundation announced today the final round of recipients for its Island Innovation Fund initiative. In total, five grant recipients were awarded $427,920 to support and develop their proposed innovations.

Recipients were selected from a group of eight finalists who presented creative concepts that will affect widespread positive change in the community and transform existing ways the nonprofit sector operates. Applicants from all three funding rounds were also invited to vote for a People’s Choice Award from among the eight finalists.

“While grantee selection for the Island Innovation Fund has wrapped up, the Hawaii Community Foundation is committed to opening doors for local nonprofits that are looking at new and innovative ways to address challenges and issues our islands face,” said Kelvin Taketa, president and CEO of Hawaii Community Foundation.

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Isle startup aims to help utilities reward energy savings

Ikehu Naturals LLC, a Hawaii-based startup, recently won an award in a contest sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. The award was given for its Demand Response Incentive (DRIVE) system. The DRIVE technology gives power companies the ability to offer airline miles to their energy efficient customers.

Ikehu said in a statement that it hopes the award generates interest by power companies around the world.

“It’s an honor to be selected among the winners in such a prestigious competition” says Ikehu CEO and founder Holland Wood. “Soon, utilities will have the ability to use airline miles to guide consumers towards responsible energy use.”

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City unveils web apps for traffic, tsunami sirens, art

Israel Kamakawiwoole, the City and County of Honolulu’s Department of Information Technology (DIT) says there are “apps for that.”

DIT has partnered with software developers to put key information in the hands of smartphone and computer users. “We are using mobile applications to provide useful information for the public and make them aware of what is happening around them in a timely manner. It’s exactly what a 21st Century city is supposed to do,” said Mayor Peter Carlisle.

“The launch of these applications, and the way in which they were developed and implemented, shows how the City and County of Honolulu is leading in its use of technology to work directly with citizens,” said Jennifer Pahlka, Founder and Executive Director of Code for America. “By using lightweight, innovative approaches, reusing existing software, and building deeper connections with residents, Honolulu is creating real value and strengthening the fabric of the city.”

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Verizon fires up 4G LTE network on Kauai, Big Island

Verizon has extended its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network on Kauai and the Big Island. The company says that customers on those islands can now use their 4G LTE wireless devices on Kauai to surf the Web, listen to music, stream live video, take advantage of thousands of applications, and stay in touch with family and friends, all with speeds up to 10 times faster than before.

On Kauai, Verizon customers who live in or visit areas including Lihue, Puhi, Nawiliwili, Wailua Homesteads, and Kapaa now have access to the Verizon Wireless 4G network.

On the Big Island, the service is available in Hilo, Keaau, Mountain View, and Pahoa. With the network expansion, residents in several other areas also have access.

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State business website wins international award

The State of Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) was recently honored with two awards for its suite of mobile business applications. The mobile apps are the first of their kind worldwide and the first mobile apps launched by the state.

The International Association of Commercial Administrators (IACA) awarded a prestigious 2012 Merit Award for Outstanding Innovation, one of the top international honors for business registries, to DCCA’s Business Registration Division (BREG) last month at the IACA annual conference.

“Hawaii’s technological transformation remains a top priority for my administration, and this award is recognition that we are on track to bringing state government where it needs to be in the 21st century,” said Governor Neil Abercrombie. “Through the innovative work now being done by DCCA and others in our state, we are creating technological assets that improve efficiency, expand services and save businesses money.”

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Hawaii Apps company to tackle booming mobile business

A new local company has set its sights on no less than the top spot among Hawaii’s mobile app developers.

Today, Hawaii Apps Inc. is launching an Island-based business focusing only on the development of mobile apps to help local businesses, government agencies, community organizations and individuals “tap” into the marketing, advertising and entertainment potential of mobile apps.

“Mobile apps are where the world is going,” said Melialani “Meli” James, one of four principals who founded Hawaii Apps. “We want to offer Hawaii the chance to get in on the trend, for Island businesses and individuals to be able to create an app that will be developed right here in the Islands, by people who know Hawaii’s culture, traditions and lifestyle.”

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Local datacenter launches pay-as-you-go cloud computing service

DRFortress, Hawaii’s leading colocation and cloud services provider, today announced that it has launched “DRFcloud,” which it says is the first local, pay-as-you-use, cloud computing services based in the state.

This new service, offered in partnership with Appcore, follows the successful start of the Nirvanix cloud storage service and is available to Hawaii customers as well as clients throughout the Pacific Rim.

Both the “DRFcloud” and the Nirvanix cloud storage hybrid node are maintained at the DRFortress datacenter in Hawaii with redundant mainland nodes for disaster recovery purposes.

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Robotic wave gliders leave Hawaii for Australia, Japan

Liquid Robotics, an ocean data services provider and developer of the Wave Glider — the first wave-powered, autonomous marine robot — launched the PacX Wave Gliders from the Big Island of Hawaii on Monday on the final phase of a first-of-its-kind scientific expedition across the Pacific Ocean.

Continuing their record-breaking journey across the high seas with approximately 5000 nautical miles until their final destinations of Australia and Japan, the Wave Gliders have collectively already traveled more than 13,000 nautical miles. This is more than twice the distance from San Francisco to Tokyo, Japan. During their voyage, the Wave Gliders are collecting and transmitting in near real-time, unprecedented amounts of ocean surface data on a scale never before continuously collected across the Pacific Ocean.

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Kakaako incubator hatches Screenfuse service

A local group of entrepreneurs and developers yesterday unveiled ScreenFuse, an interactive social media display for businesses and special events.

The web-based service creates an attractive, live-updating screen that can show real-time social media activity connected to a store, restaurant, hotel, concert, or conference.

Screenfuse was developed in under a month by Hawaii-based web developer Evan Nagle, digital designer John Garcia, and L.A.-based entrepreneur Mike Prasad. The startup was incubated at The Greenhouse Innovation Hub in Kakaako.

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Offshore Fish Farm Receives Key Permit

Hawaii Oceanic Technology, Inc. has been issued permit HI-0028140 in accordance with the provisions of the Clean Water Act, Hawaii Revised Statutes, Chapter 342D; and Hawaii Administrative Rules as administered by the Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH).

In a letter dated March 30, 2012, the DOH stated that it has “reviewed the (company’s) application for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, and that after consideration of the expressed views of all interested persons and agencies, pertinent Federal and State statutes and rules regarding the discharge, the DOH hereby issues the NPDES permit effective April 30, 2012.”

This comprehensive process took the company more than a year of effort and required a thorough public review and response to comments from the public and several NGOs.

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City Smartphone Apps Gaining Steam in Honolulu

The City Department of Information Technology (DIT) partnered with local developers to enhance public service by providing key information to campers, bus riders, and those interested in reporting problems to the City and the public is making good use of the new services.

“We are pleased that the public has embraced the City’s newest online services as well as other services such as the NIXLE notification system and our Facebook and Twitter accounts,” said Mayor Peter Carlisle.

The successful online camping registration program allows campers, who formerly had to wait in line for hours—and sometimes days—before camp registration deadlines, to now register online for campsites. More than 1,300 users have already taken advantage of the new registration system.

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STEM Week to celebrate Hawaii education efforts

The fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are critical to the future of Hawaii and the U.S., with major initiatives launching nationwide to ensure that today’s students become tomorrow’s innovators and leaders.

Next month, the inaugural Hawaii STEM Week will bring together a wide range of local stakeholders to highlight these critical areas of education, and encourage greater community support and industry engagement.

Scheduled to run concurrently with the Hawaii State Science & Engineering Fair (HSSEF), STEM Week will feature events to recognize excellence among Hawaii’s schools, connect students and practitioners with relevant employers and careers, and award local institutions for their work in advancing STEM education.

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Foundation announces $450,000 in Innovation Fund awards

The Hawaii Community Foundation announced the second round of grant recipients from its Island Innovation Fund, which was created to serve as a catalyst for innovation within the nonprofit sector. From a group of eight finalists, a total of $480,591 was awarded to five recipients for projects that will: increase energy awareness through real-time energy monitoring web and mobile application tools; allow residents statewide to actively follow and monitor the Hawaii legislative process; distribute a replicable exercise and fall prevention program to Hawaii’s seniors; deploy a new access control mechanism to maintain public access to trails and pathways on Hawaii Island; and encourage schools to eliminate its waste to create green schools.

For the first time, a “People’s Choice Award” was also selected by the more than 200 nonprofits that submitted proposals over the first and second grant rounds.

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Hawaii, Korea partner for smart grid development

Government officials and private sector leaders today joined Governor Neil Abercrombie and Choi Kyu-Chong, Director of the Electricity Market and Smart Grid Division at the Republic of Korea Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE), at the Hawai’i State Capitol as the two leaders signed a letter of intent to pursue mutual interests in smart grid development in the Hawaiian Islands.

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Algae demonstration commissioned at West Oahu refinery

Kuehnle AgroSystems, a producer of specialized algae strains and bulk concentrated algae designed to meet the diverse needs of the animal nutrition, specialty chemical and biofuels markets, has announced the commissioning of an algae demonstration project at the Chevron Hawaii refinery.

The demonstration project, funded by the Hawaii Renewable Energy Development Venture and the Office of Naval Research, produces algae using recycled CO2 waste streams and wastewater by-product from Chevron’s refinery to cultivate algae in specially designed closed growing systems.

Chevron’s role in this project is to serve as a host site and a source of recycled CO2 and wastewater for KAS to conduct its research.

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OTEC International chosen for NELHA demonstration

OTEC International LLC (OTI) was selected to build a one-megawatt demonstration plant by the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (NELHA) to test the full power cycle of ocean thermal energy conversion for electricity.

Baltimore-based OTI has built its OTEC design on decades of innovation, combining proprietary technology with off-the-shelf components. Privately funded OTI has not relied on government money and expects to be first-to-market with a commercial plant.

OTI is currently negotiating a power purchase agreement with Hawaiian Electric Company for a 100-megawatt (MW) plant and with Caribbean Utilities Company and others for 25 MW plants.

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Isle marine base testing new trash technology

At Camp Smith above Halawa, the military is testing a high-tech trash disposal system that can reduce a standard 50-gallon bag of waste to a half-pint jar of harmless ash.

Called the Micro Auto Gasification System (MAGS), the unit is currently undergoing evaluation by U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific in partnership with the Office of Naval Research as a possible solution to help Marines win their daily battle against the increasing trash at remote forward operating bases.

Lt. Col. Mike Jernigan, a Marine combat engineer who recently commanded a logistics battalion in Afghanistan, said waste disposal in the field is a problem.

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Kauai utility smart grid project approved

The state Public Utilities Commission last week approved Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s request to commit funds to participate in a national smart grid demonstration project, which will bring advanced meter technology to every household on Kauai.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s national demonstration project is designed to assist rural utilities like KIUC, implement technologies that make the electricity grid more efficient and reliable. The total cost of the project is approximately $11.9 million, half of which will be funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA).

In the application, filed late in October of 2010, KIUC requested commission approval to commit approximately $6 million in funds to participate in The Smart Grid Project which the utility explained was part of a demonstration project “involving 27 electric cooperatives throughout the nation,” but the project also represents a key component of KIUC’s own longterm strategic plan.

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