University of Hawaii Research: Delivering on Its Promise?

Courtesy of the University of Hawaii

Editor's note: This is the first in a four-part series on research at the University of Hawaii and its potential to drive the state's economy. Bruce Stevenson, former CEO of Pacific Health Research Institute (PHRI), contributed to the research for this series.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie and University of Hawaii President M.R.C. Greenwood have both made much ado about the potential of university innovation to drive Hawaii's economy.

"Research programs at the university will play a big part in our economic recovery by bringing external dollars into our state and building innovative industries," Abercrombie said in January during his first State of the State.

"Our university can and must support a multi-billion dollar industry for Hawaii in research, spin-offs and related services that supports employment for Hawaii's citizens and fuels the state’s economy," Greenwood wrote in a March op-ed for Civil Beat.

Civil Beat decided to evaluate where UH stands in comparison with institutions that drive their local economy the way Abercrombie and Greenwood say UH could. A globally competitive and commercially successful innovation community requires a vibrant and steady stream of novel, ground-breaking discoveries, some of which will funnel down into a smaller number of viable commercial applications. A dynamic innovation economy of the type Abercrombie imagines is impossible without strong research and discovery.

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