With a $25,000 grand prize, the HIplan competition will stimulate an entrepreneurial ecosystem on Hawai‘i Island to create jobs for our young people including UH Hilo graduates.
By Don Straney.
The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo is the site of a business plan competition designed to encourage economic development on Hawai‘i Island.
With a $25,000 grand prize, the intent of the Hawaii Island Business Plan Competition or HIplan is to stimulate an entrepreneurial ecosystem on Hawai‘i Island to create new and improved jobs for our young people including UH Hilo graduates. This aligns well with UH Hilo’s mission to encourage economic development on Hawai‘i Island.
The project is co-chaired by two UH alumni and long-time entrepreneurs—aquaculture pioneer Jim Wyban and real estate broker Kelly Moran—and is being administered by the Hawai‘i Island Chamber of Commerce.
Ka‘iu Kimura, director of ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and current president of the chamber, says that with HIplan, the chamber hopes to create an opportunity for local businesses—new, young, and aspiring businesses—to become competitive and hopefully spark a thriving and progressive entrepreneurial ecosystem for our island.
The HIplan competition will provide an opportunity to bring the new business plans “to the table” for the university and business community to see how we can continue to create and build a strong and thriving economy for Hawai‘i Island.
Jim and Kelly are taking the lead on organizing and fundraising.
Jim is an aquaculture pioneer who helped develop pathogen-free shrimp varieties that helped to quadruple global production. Kelly, a UH Hilo alumnus with degrees in tropical agriculture and political science, is a 30-year real estate veteran and teaches real estate finance at the UH Hilo College of Business and Economics.
Emmeline de Pillis, a professor of management and director of the Office of Applied Learning at UH Hilo, says she’s thrilled to be working with Jim and Kelly on the project. She notes the fantastic opportunity for UH Hilo students and Hawai‘i Island residents.
The competition is open to anyone to present their plan for a Hawai‘i Island business, either startups or expanding business, for-profit or non-profit, from astronomy and agriculture to technology and tourism. As long as the business plan is Hawai‘i Island-based, it qualifies.
UH Hilo students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to enter.
To supplement the competition, UH Hilo is offering an online for-credit business planning course over the summer. And the UH Hilo Small Business Development Center is providing consulting and a series of short workshops to help competitors prepare their plans.
My hope is that budding entrepreneurs from around the island—from high school and university students to budding entrepreneurs to established business people—will take advantage of the educational sessions and competition process. It’s a great opportunity to work with local experts to develop a new and exciting business plan.
Entries for the competition are now being accepted with a Sept. 1 submission deadline.
Final presentations will be held Nov. 6 at UH Hilo. I invite everyone in the local business community to attend the final event so you can see firsthand the new technologies and business ideas that will create Hawaii Island’s future entrepreneurial ecosystem.
For more information on the competition and to download entry forms, visit the HIplan website.
Knowing the formidable amount of brainpower and creativity in our community, we look forward to seeing the ideas that come out of the competition. Good luck to all competitors!