UH Pacific Business Center Program awarded $250,000 grant
The University of Hawaii is one of 22 colleges and universities to receive funding under the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) 2017 University Center Economic Development Program Competition. The grant to UH’s Pacific Business Center Program (PBCP) at Manoa was announced by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross this week.
“The University Center program can be an important vehicle in marshaling the resources of local colleges and universities in support of regional economic development strategies,” said Secretary Ross. “These higher education institutions will work to build the public-private partnerships that are so vital to helping America stay competitive in the 21st century.”
This year’s competition was open to higher education institutions and consortia of accredited institutions of higher education nationally. It funds initiatives that are focused on advancing regional commercialization efforts, entrepreneurship, innovation, business expansion in a region’s innovation cluster, and a high-skilled regional workforce.
Only nine grants were awarded to institutions of higher education from the western region (States west of the Mississippi river to the Pacific, including Hawaii and Alaska). The PBCP was awarded a project total grant of $250,000 with matching funds.
“With the EDA award the PBCP is back in business and can now focus on the commercialization phase of the Pacific Regional Breadfruit Initiative (PRBI), originally funded by the US Department of the Interior Office of Insular Affairs. The PRBI is a community/village based economic development initiative utilizing sustainable local natural resources, local work force expertise and innovative technology modified locally for drying breadfruit and packaging for shipment to milling and flour making plants for the local and export markets,” said Papalii Dr. Failautusi Avegalio, director of the PBCP.
“Regional collaboration is essential for a regional industry that can benefit all in this phase of the PRBI development. The high demand for gluten free low glycemic index (breadfruit has both nutritional benefits!) food products nationally and globally is an unprecedented opportunity for the Pacific. Especially for health where, according to an Asian Development Bank 2011 report, rates of non communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases among Pacific Island Countries, caused primarily by imported processed foods, are the highest in the world and account for over 75% of all deaths. We can do better and we will,” said Papalii.