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National Research Council (US) Committee on Competing in the 21st Century: Best Practice in State and Regional Innovation Initiatives. Building Hawaii's Innovation Economy: Summary of a Symposium. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2012.

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Building Hawaii's Innovation Economy: Summary of a Symposium.

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Luncheon Address


Governor of the State of Hawaii

Dr. Greenwood introduced Dr. Abercrombie as the only governor she knew of who had also been a faculty member—in his case, at the University of Hawaii—and therefore “one of the people who really understands what the university does.” He had also been in Congress for 20 years, she noted, providing a rare breadth of academic and political experience in the youngest of the United States.15

Governor Abercrombie spoke to the symposium with enthusiasm and optimism, especially in regard to the partnerships described by participants among the university, the business community, and the state and federal governments. He praised the efforts to advance entrepreneurial efforts in the state and under-lined his personal commitment to innovation-based growth, as described in detail during his election campaign. He singled out participants from the National Academies, the Department of Defense, and the congressional delegation for understanding the value of dual-use technologies, the SBIR program, and the judicious use of targeted Member Initiatives, or earmarks. “These are actions by a legislative committee in cooperation with the private sector, business, and the university to advance not just individual industries but also the state and the nation,” he said. He singled out the 30-meter telescope now planned for Mauna Kea as a reflection of both the hard work of Hawaii’s political leaders and an example of the unique resources of the state. “It would be a criminal act not to place that telescope on Mauna Kea,” he said. “This is the finest place on earth to explore the heavens.”

He vigorously endorsed the recommendations of the UH Innovation Council, which he said overlapped his own campaign issues and the current priorities of the governor’s office. These included especially the Hawaii Graduation Initiative, which seeks to increase the “educational capital of the state,” and creation of a “21st century workforce for the research industry.” He praised the quality and vision of the university, saying that “everything I hope to be as governor, and in my life, has to do with the university. I came to Hawaii because of the University of Hawaii,” where he received “one of the best graduate educations available in the world.”

He stressed the value of education for a small state that must rely more on knowledge than it ever has. For Hawaii, which can no longer depend on revenues from sugar and pineapple, the UH can be the new driver to create new businesses in biofuels, geothermal, wind, and other alternative energies; continuing development of technologies of use to the military; and biomedical advances. “We are learning to work together here in Hawaii so we don’t have to look to outside sources,” he said in closing. “We have the entrepreneurs, the commitment, and the partners to do it. The UH is going to be in the lead in that effort, and I couldn’t be happier to make my total and complete commitment to it.”



Hawaii, the only state composed entirely of islands, was granted statehood on August 21, 1959.

Copyright © 2012, National Academy of Sciences.
Bookshelf ID: NBK99274


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