What happens when the state agency tasked with fostering a high-tech start-up industry in Hawaii goes underfunded? Hawaii is about to find out. Pacific Business News Editor in Chief A. Kam Napier has more.
There are a lot of moving parts to creating a healthy environment for a high-tech start-up culture. It takes software coding wizards and venture capitalists, angel investors and incubators, and more. Government can play a role, too and in Hawaii, a two-person agency called the Hawaii Strategic Development Corporation has been tasked with fostering a high-tech future for the islands.
It is also an agency that struggles to get the funding it needs from the legislature, getting just $1 million of the $5 million requested in the last budget, after getting nothing at all the previous year.
As research from the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization shows, however, the state is missing out. HSCD has spent just over $5 million since 2011, but its activities have leveraged more than $88 million in outside funding. Mostly the agency has done this by supporting accelerators and events. Accelerators help small startup tech companies, often founded by young people, perfect their product and professionalize their practices so that they become more attractive to private investors. Events have created forum connecting Hawaii’s homegrown startups with people able to fund their development.
HSDC will do what it can with the funds available, knowing it has the support of Gov. David Ige, who intends to push for more funding next year. Startups we spoke to say the agency was instrumental in their success and they hope to see more support for in the near future.