Recognizing them for their achievements as leaders and innovators in Hawai‘i’s tech economy, the 2017 Hawai‘i Venture Capital Association Award recipients were commended and congratulated on the floor of the Senate today.

Since its inception in 1988, the Hawaii Venture Capital Association has fostered entrepreneurial development through education, exposure to excellent speakers, and introductions to key members of the business community.

“Each year the awards go to those individuals who shine brighter than the rest and it’s an honor to have a few of them here to celebrate in their accomplishments in growing Hawaii’s economy,” said Senator Glenn Wakai, chair of the Senate committee on Economic Development, Tourism, and Technology. The 2017 Hawaii Venture Capital Association Award winners are:

Startup Paradise Champion of the Year: Bytemarks Café – Burt Lum and Ryan Ozawa. This award is given to someone who consistently contributes to the startup community. These contributions consist of supporting, promoting, and building a successful startup culture and ecosystem in Hawaii. The winners this year are Burt Lum and Ryan Ozawa of the Bytemarks Café.

Burt Lum is a communicator, innovator, community builder, open data advocate, and a sci/tech geek. He is also the Executive Director of Hawaii Open Data.

Ryan Ozawa is a media maker and community builder who serves as Communications Director for Hawaii Information Service and as Chief Marketing Office of local ag-tech startup Smart Yields. Together they co-host Bytemarks Café on not only Hawaii Public Radio, but also the Geek Beat on Hawaii News Now.

Island Innovator of the Year: Henk Rogers This award is to honor the most impactful innovation that has helped our island state – truly solving a problem in our own backyard, our mountains, our beach, our aina. This innovation inspires and celebrates an innovation, entrepreneur or company that has shown leadership and commitment to tackling s significant problem in our state.

Henk Rogers is a Dutch-born entrepreneur and clean energy visionary who has dedicated the past decade of his career to the research, development, advocacy and implementation of renewable energy sources in his adopted home of Hawaii and beyond. He has studied computer science at the University of Hawaii and spent his early career in Japan as a video game designer, gaining distinction for producing the country’s first roleplaying game, The Black Onyx. He went on to revolutionize the video game industry by securing the rights for the blockbuster Tetris, which 30 years later remains a bestseller and global gaming icon.

Corporate Intrapreneur of the Year: Ian Kitajima This award goes to the person(s) who creatively challenges traditions and assertively makes changes in their company culture to ensure fellow employees in their environment and their field are engaged and provides the platform to be intrapreneurial.

Ian Kitajima is a senior executive at Oceanit, one of Hawaii’s largest and most diversified privately-held technology companies, with 150 scientists and engineers. Ever since 2001, Ian has contributed to Oceanit’s evolution and sharing of their culture of innovation to create, fund, incubate, and transition new technologies to the marketspace, with a community mission to create prosperity. Ian has initiated Oceanit’s entry into areas such as Nanotechnology, Energy, and Design Thinking. He is an advisor and/or board member to several educational, government, and community organizations such as the Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation, UH Alumni Association, and the Workforce Development Council.

Life Science Entrepreneur of the Year – Jeffrey Yu This award is presented to the entrepreneur whose company’s innovation is helping to solve some of the biggest problems in the medical field.

Dr. Jeffrey Yu is a serial entrepreneur and is Board Certified in Radiology and Nuclear Medicine. He is CEO of Kineticor, a company that is eliminating motion from MR images in collaboration with the world’s leading MR vendor. He is also the founder of OneMeNet, the leading medical image sharing and exchange provider to leading medical image management vendors and a part of the office of the President of Queen’s Health Systems.

Social Impact Entrepreneur of the Year – Purple Mai’a (Donavan Kealoha accepting) This award is intended to honor an entrepreneur or entrepreneurial company that makes a substantial contribution to Hawaii. The award recipient will have contributed to non-profit organizations or community volunteer efforts.

Purple Mai’a Foundation is a non-profit Hawaiian organization focused on empowering high opportunity youth in underserved Hawaii communities that possess rich cultural heritages by providing indigenized, and culturally affirming technology education in coding and computer programming. For the 2016-2017 school year, Purple Mai’a will work with over 300 middle school and high school aged students at public, charter, and alternative learning centers across Oahu, Maui, and Lanai.

Deal of the Year - Scott Mercer This award recognizes the Startup Paradise company that received the largest financial deal during 2016, whether it be the closing of a round, a merger, or any other type of exit. The 2017 winner of this award is Scott Mercer of Volta Industries.

Scott is a CEO and Founder at Volta Industries since January 2010. Scott is an entrepreneur with a passion for bringing future-focused technology to market faster. He has been named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Hawaii Venture Capital, Forty Under 40 by Pacific Business News, and Hawaii Business’ Twenty for the Next 20.

Prior to Volta, Scott ran a vintage automotive restoration business and sold a restored 1967 Jaguar XKE to seed the beginnings of Volta. Scott currently drives a Brammo motorcycle, an electric Fiat, and occasionally a 1971 Alfa Romeo. Volta Charging is the largest free electric car-charging network in the United States. Offering brands powerful media platform to deliver their messages & make communities more sustainable.

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