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Governor Lingle names innovation award winners


HONOLULU – Governor Linda Lingle today recognized three recipients of the Governor’s Innovation Awards for their ingenuity and commitment to developing creative ways to secure a stronger future for Hawai‘i.

The recipients for the month of September include a university leadership team that is making the most of limited budget resources to accommodate growing student enrollment, a school student coordinator who brewed up a creative business teaching tool for his students, and a private company that goes to great depths to provide people around the world with quality water. The winners have developed innovative solutions to challenges, invented and implemented new technologies with worldwide applications, and contributed to the creation of a stronger economic future for the state.

The recipients of the Governor’s Innovation Award for September 2009 are:

Innovation by an Organization: Deep Ocean Hawai‘i

Deep Ocean Hawai‘i created a new solution to providing clean drinking water to population centers worldwide. It conducts open-ocean harvesting, processing, containerization and bulk shipment of deep ocean water. The company’s Deep Water Harvesting System includes a rapid deployment and retrieval pipeline that reaches below the temperature layer of the ocean called the thermocline. It uses a reverse osmosis process to separate deep ocean water into potable and brine products. In the event of a disaster or water shortage anywhere in the world, desalinated drinkable water can be produced on demand and shipped immediately to where it is needed. Deep Ocean Hawai‘i is also the first company to produce and ship deep ocean brine in bulk as a commercial ingredient. The deep ocean brine is used in large refrigeration installations and food preservation.

Innovation by an Individual: Tom Yamamoto

‘Iliahi Elementary School student coordinator Tom Yamamoto developed a creative business teaching tool to provide elementary and high school students with a real world opportunity to learn how to manage and operate a business. He developed the ‘Iliahi Dragon Café Program, a high school credited course, which teaches Leilehua High School seniors about business and marketing, while earning scholarships for college tuition. The program also provides an innovative way for elementary school students to enhance their math, technology, communications, teamwork and money management skills, while getting an introduction to what it takes to run a small business.

The ‘Iliahi Dragon Café, which is named after the school’s mascot, sells brewed and packaged coffee, tea and hot chocolate. The ‘Iliahi Student Council, consisting of grades 4 and 5 officers and representatives, oversees the entire operation of the café. ‘Iliahi students manage the café by monitoring attendance, tallying sales, and balancing the income and expenses on a daily basis. Leilehua High students, who must apply and be accepted into the program, operate the café by setting up, selling and serving coffee, and cleaning up. The high school students receive one elective credit and a scholarship in their name to be used for college tuition or other educational expenses. The innovative program supports ‘Iliahi Elementary School’s mission of establishing a strong foundation for lifelong learning for all students to achieve their highest potential.

Innovation in Government: University of Hawai‘i – Hilo

To address the growing budget shortfall as a result of the global and national recession, the University of Hawai‘i system, along with all other state agencies, has been seeking ways to maintain its educational services for students and the community, but with less funding and resources. At the University of Hawai‘i – Hilo campus, one class has used creative ingenuity to meet this challenge.

Dr. Randy Hirokawa, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, was faced with the challenge of increased student enrollment in his Communications 270 class, “Introduction to Theories of Human Communication,” a required course for Communications majors. With enrollment peaking at 70 students this fall and limited classroom space to accommodate them, Dr. Hirokawa faced a potential dilemma of having to close enrollment to students who might need the class to graduate.

An unlikely solution emerged when Housing Director Miles Nagata offered the use of the Hale Kehau Dining Room, which serves meals at night but sits empty during the day. The space was sufficient, but the dining hall was not “wired” for teaching, and there was no budget to acquire and install new audiovisual and other electronic equipment. Using teamwork and creative thinking, a solution was found. Older equipment slated to be discarded was identified, but needed to be repaired. In stepped Office of Technology and Distance Learning Specialist Bob Chi who fixed, modified and installed the equipment at virtually no cost to the University. Through innovation, collaboration, and resourcefulness – under challenging circumstances – Dr. Hirokawa’s class is being held in the Hale Kehau dining room, and no student had to be turned away.

About the Governor’s Innovation Awards

Governor Lingle initiated the Innovation Awards in May 2008 to acknowledge and encourage innovation across all sectors statewide. The awards recognize deserving individuals, companies, nonprofits, organizations and government agencies that are developing innovative products, services and processes. The award is part of the Lingle-Aiona Administration’s Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative, a comprehensive plan to transform Hawai‘i’s economy from one dependent on land development to one that builds on human ingenuity and the ability of Hawai‘i’s people to innovate.

The Governor’s Innovation Awards nominees are evaluated monthly by a 15-member selection panel comprised of industry, education and government representatives statewide. Nominations are submitted online and are judged on creativity; effectiveness in achieving a goal or purpose; transferability and adoptability by others; and significance in addressing an important local or global issue, problem or opportunity. The selection committee provides final recommendations to Governor Lingle for her approval.

For additional information or to submit a nomination, visit

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