Sopogy in Pacific Business News

Hawaii tech to be shown in Silicon Valley

Pacific Business News (Honolulu) - 2:47 PM HAST Monday, May 7, 2007

    Three inventions and two emerging technology companies from Hawaii will be showcased at a technology summit in Santa Clara, Calif., on May 22.The University of Hawaii’s Office of Technology Transfer and Economic Development will present its annual Technology Showcase event in connection with the TechConnect Summit 2007, one of the world’s largest gatherings of technology developers, technology-based ventures and investors. 

    “TechConnect Summit is an ideal venue for the University of Hawaii to showcase its most promising technologies because of its prominence as a premiere technology event and its international audience,” Richard Cox, director of the UH Office of Technology Transfer, said in a statement. “We are excited about presenting new technologies developed in Hawaii, finding new partners to license and commercialize UH inventions, fostering business spin-off opportunities and bringing recognition to UH research and innovation.”

    The UH inventions include:

    •A solar-powered system that produces hydrogen and oxygen gases from water.
    •A technology that detects people through barriers using remote wireless monitoring of heart and breathing rates for use in search and rescue and the military.
    •Unique nanocomposite materials with improved strength and fracture resistance. The material can be used for aircraft, vehicles and resin-based products.

      New Hawaii-based technology companies, Nanopoint and Sopogy, also will be featured at the event. 

       


A dozen science, tech bills

passed in ‘innovation’ drive

BY TREENA SHAPIRO

Advertiser Government Write r

The word buzzed around the state Capitol throughout the Legislative session, beginning with Gov. Linda Lingle’s call to diversify the economy through science and technology and ending Thursday with the Legislature passing a dozen bills meant to do just that. Many of Lingle’s ideas remained intact, although in many cases the funding fell through, most notably a proposal to make the Employees’ Retirement System invest $100 million of its $10.4 billion fund in promising

Hawai’i-based tech companies- which by the end of session had morphed into a simple request for ERS to look into local investments. Meanwhile, lawmakers had ideas of their own, and part of the more than $17million innovation package included $500,000 to expand aerospace development in the Islands, as well as almost $5 million to start an Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawai’i. The aerospace money would help the state look for opportunities in that areas well as providing seed money for a Pacific International Center for Space Explorations. Those in the science and technology industry say that what the state really needs to do is create a business-friendly environment to attract investors.

The most significant work the Legislature did, in their view, was to protect the high-tech tax credits and incentives known as Acts 221/215, even while adding reporting requirements. To many officials , the work done this session was a step in the right direction. “It’s always been our view that this is the right vision for Hawai’i future, the right strategy and approach for our economy,” said Ted Liu, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism . “I think some good ideas were passed this session and we’ve always said there are a lot of good ideas related to innovation that had been introduced , some by us and some by others.” Sen. Carol Fukunaga, chairwoman of the Senate’s Economic Development and Taxation committee, anticipates this year’s legislation will help new companies start up, stimulate the creation of new jobs, allow for existing companies to expand and “hopefully lead to a much more diversified economy.” Fukunaga credits the governor with bringing into focus ideas about innovation that have been rattling around for a number of years. “The fact that the governor sort of started the ball rolling is a real plus,” she said. Liu said positive things came out of the session, but he was disappointed that many of the governor’s work force development initiatives were not passed.

The administration’s approach had included proposals to encourage high school and college students to enter science, technology, engineer ring and math, or STEM, fields as well as retrain existing workers to do more technical jobs. While many of the education initiatives survived, most professional development proposals fell by the wayside. Lifelong learning accounts , which would have allowed low wage earners to set aside pre-tax dollars for education and professional development, and would be matched by their employers and the state, was a priority for the administration, but it failed before the Legislature. A proposal to start a state rapid-response training program to help residents adjust to change s in the job market was also dropped. However, Liu said the administration will work with what it has. “On some initiatives they gave seed money that has challenged us to do as much with that as possible. I intend to do that,” he said. Some of the seed money is going to a Music Enterprise and Learning Program Experience program at Honolulu Community College. Over the next two years, $400,000 will be put toward a technology center and incubator in Kaka’ako.

During the next fiscal year, $5 million will be awarded in research funding for small locally based tech companies. In addition , the Legislature funded a number of initiatives aimed at public schools so that kids can start building up their STEM skills - and hopefully steer some into technical fields. Ian Kitajima, marketing manager for Oceanic, said this state funded research and development program is particularly significant. “This program received unprecedented industry and bipartisan support to leverage federal R&D investment coming into Hawaii,” he said via e-mail. “In the last three years, (about) $1.5 billion has been invested into Hawaii’s innovation industries due to the support of Hawaii’s congressional delegation .” Kitajima also said keeping the high-tech tax incentives mostly intact will encourage more investors to look to companies that offer well-paying jobs based on ideas and creativity. “Act 215 gives Hawai’i investors (and outside investors) a reason to look beyond Hawai’i real estate and other investments the y know very well ,” he said. “It also gives them an opportunity to pause and to look at investments that have a larger trickle-down effect,”

Attracting investors is critical, said Darren Kimura, president and CEO of Sopogy Inc., who was also relieved that Acts 221 and 215 were not changed in a way that would have made investors pull out, as feared earlier in the session. “Without seed capital, it’s a real challenge to get a start-up company going,” he said. “To get traction without capital is hard.” Kimura said investment capital is also needed to create jobs that will draw the best and brightest Hawai’i graduate s back to the state. “We need to create an environment where companies can get funded and succeed,” he said.. In an environment friendly to scientific companies, Kimura predicts there will be jobs for all the people the state wants to train. “Work force development is one of the top things we need to have,” he said. “We have that glass ceiling and we don’t have the answer to necessarily break through that,”

Reach TreenaShapiro at tshapiro@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8014.

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Sopogy Press from the House of Representatives

The House of Representatives

STATE OF HAWAII

NEWS RELEASE

Contact: Vice Speaker Jon Riki Karamatsu

For Immediate Release – April 30, 2007 T. 808-586-8490

LOCAL SOLAR POWER COMPANY WINS $10M IN REVENUE BONDS

Honolulu. Sopogy, Inc., a local renewable energy company, has received legislative approval to issue as much as $10M in special purpose revenue bonds. House Bill 334, introduced by Vice Speaker of the House of Representatives Jon Riki Karamatsu, authorizes the issuance of bonds to assist Sopogy, Inc. with the planning, design, construction, equipping, and operating of a solar farm power plant.

Sopogy, Inc. specializes in the development, manufacture, and distribution of proprietary concentrated solar power systems that generate electricity. The company was founded in 2002 by local entrepreneur Darren Kimura with the goal of addressing global problems such as climate change, energy security and sustainability. The proposed location of Sopogy, Inc.’s solar farm power plant is the Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority’s Kailua-Kona site.

“Sopogy is proud to be part of the solution to Hawaii’s energy needs,” said Kimura. “We are building a technology company that highlights the value of investing in Hawaii’s emerging clean energy sector and we are grateful for the support of Representative Karamatsu and the numerous members of the State House and Senate who supported our Special Purpose Revenue Bond.”

Author of the bill Rep. Karamatsu has been a staunch supporter of clean energy technology. In 2005, Rep. Karamatsu helped another Hilo native, Dustin Shindo, and his company, Hoku Scientific, secure one of Hawaii’s first special-purpose revenue bond authorizations for a renewable energy company. Hoku Scientific’s bonds were available for the planning, design, construction, and equipping of the company’s Kapolei facilities.

“Helping companies like Sopogy ultimately helps all of us,” said Vice Speaker Karamatsu. “Sopogy’s solar power technology will help Hawaii become less reliant on fossil fuels and hopefully begin to address the adverse effects of global warming.”