UH accelerator recognized as one of nation's elite

SBA's top administrator to present $50,000 award to XLR8UH

University of Hawaiʻi
Vassilis L. Syrmos, (808) 956-5006
Vice President for Research and Innovation
Eric R. Matsunaga, (808) 956-5588
Director, Research and Administrative Operations, Office of the VP for Research and Innovation
Posted: Oct 13, 2015


On Wednesday, October 14, 2015, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, will be presenting a $50,000 check to XLR8UH, the University of Hawai‘i’s proof of concept center/venture accelerator, in recognition of it being named one of the nation’s elite programs in the annual SBA Growth Accelerator Fund Competition.

The ceremony will be held at the Daniel K. Inouye Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education (C-MORE) Hale on the UH Mānoa Campus at 10:00 am. The presentation is one stop on a visit that is being hosted by U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono to showcase small business successes in the islands. Contreras-Sweet’s visit to Hawai‘i marks the first by an SBA administrator since 2005.

XLR8UH is a first of its kind proof of concept center/venture accelerator developed by the University of Hawai‘i and Sultan Ventures, a boutique venture firm -- which also manages it.  The proof of concept center educates, mentors and invests in UH research and talent, ranging from students to post docs, faculty and alumni.  It is one of the first public university investment programs in the nation, revolutionizing the way innovation and research is commercialized.

"This national recognition of our accelerator program by SBA, at just over a year old, confirms our belief in the abundance of opportunities that exist at the University of Hawai‘i in all disciplines, particularly those that emphasize Hawai‘i's strengths in energy, astronomy, marine and life sciences," said Omar S. Sultan, cofounder and managing director of XLR8UH and founding partner of Sultan Ventures. "Our goal is to cultivate and empower the talent affiliated with UH."

Launched in 2014, XLR8UH will select its third cohort of startup teams this fall. Cohort participants receive hands-on training and resources through the three-phased program branded Lean, Build, Pitch™ as well as the opportunity to pitch at “Demo Days” in both Honolulu and in Silicon Valley. To date, 11 companies have been through the XLR8UH program, generating hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue and receiving millions of dollars in follow-on funding.

“XLR8UH is a cornerstone to the successful commercialization of our research,” said Vassilis L. Syrmos, UH vice president for research and innovation.  “By developing talented entrepreneurs from our ranks and fortifying the entrepreneurial ecosystem at UH -- we are also contributing to the Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative in its efforts to diversify the state’s economy.”

As a winner in the accelerator competition, XLR8UH will report metrics such as jobs created, funds raised and startups launched. This will allow the SBA to continue building upon its database of accelerators and their impact and to develop long-term relationships with the startups and constituents in these innovative and entrepreneurial communities.

"I was very pleased to hear that SBA has awarded Growth Accelerator Awards to outstanding programs in Hawai‘i like XLR8UH, validating the impressive work going on with our innovation and fast growth segments in the islands,” said Jane Sawyer, district director of the SBA Hawai‘i District Office.

About XLR8UH

Is a first of its kind Proof of Concept Center and Venture Accelerator.  The program, a partnership between the University of Hawai‘i and Sultan Ventures, educates, mentors and invests in the University of Hawai‘i's research and talent, ranging from students to post docs, faculty and even alumni. XLR8UH is one of the first public university investment programs in the nation, revolutionizing the way innovation is commercialized at universities. http://www.xlr8uh.com/

About Sultan Ventures
Sultan Ventures (SV) is a boutique venture firm focusing on early-stage startups and investments. As a startup catalyst, SV provides pivotal resources via its powerful network of experts and investors. SV works closely with innovative startups, providing the hands-on expertise and access to capital needed to accelerate growth, as well as with investors, performing the diligence necessary to make strategic investment decisions. http://sultanventures.com/

About the Hawai`i Innovation Initiative

The University of Hawai‘i is working in partnership with the private sector and government to build a thriving innovation, research, education and training enterprise in Hawai‘i that will develop a third major economic sector for the state, create high-quality living-wage jobs, and address the challenges and opportunities faced by Hawai`i and the world. http://www.hawaii.edu/innovation/

About UH Research

Research conducted by the University of Hawai‘i (UH) 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. http://www.hawaii.edu/research/