Categorized | Business, Education, News, Sci-Tech

Purple Prize competition launches for 2019 participants


Local indigenous innovation competition the Purple Prize is back in 2019 and open as of November 1 for applications for its first phase of the competition.

Previously running in 2016 and 2017, the Purple Prize has given away nearly $75k in prizes to teams building technology products and startups that are grounded in Native Hawaiian culture and focused on positive social impact.

According to Director of the Purple Prize Alec Wagner, the hiatus in 2018 was a chance to improve upon a solid concept. “We took a look at what we liked about the Purple Prize–how it brings teams together with different worldviews and skills–and layered in what we want to improve. Mostly we are building in new learning opportunities on topics like technology and social entrepreneurship, and building a second phase of competition that will be hyper-focused on getting startups to viability.”

Purple Prize events are open to the public and community participation is encouraged.

“We want competing teams to be led by Native Hawaiian and other local people who know the problems Hawaiʻi faces, know Hawaiian culture, and are passionate about building tech solutions that support community work at addressing these problems,” said Kelsey Amos, part of the team that first created the Purple Prize.

“This competition is about creating spaces for people to come together and define how we want our local tech sector to function, what kinds of problems it will solve. We hope the Purple Prize will foster a movement,” said Amos.

The first phase of the competition begins with a kick-off event to take place at Paepae o Heʻeia in February 2019. Those who want to be competitors in the Purple Prize Connections Phase should apply before then at

“If you have an idea for a tech tool that would help your community or would amplify Hawaiian culture, apply! If you are a tech professional or business student or scientist who wants to use your skills for something meaningful and local, apply!” said Amos.

The Purple Prize is an innovation competition that brings together people across sectors to build technology solutions that create value for land and people. Purple Prize projects are forces for sustainability and systems-change and are the foundation of a local technology sector rooted in Kanaka Maoli values. It runs from February to November 2019.

We believe that the exponential power of technology can be a vessel for scalable, positive impacts when innovation is grounded in the ethos of Native Hawaiian culture; cross-pollinates with the priorities and competencies of the related fields of social entrepreneurship and sustainability; and builds impactful, scalable technology companies that transform the status quo and plant the seeds of an Indigenous innovation ecosystem here in Hawaiʻi.

The competition is broken into two phases. The Connections Phase, which lasts from Feb. to June 2019, is a series of workshops and immersive experiences where participants co-learn about culture, technological innovation, and business fundamentals, connect with each other, and understand a different framework for thinking about technology, innovation, and their roles in Kanaka Maoli resurgence and creating a better future for all who call Hawaiʻi home. Ultimately, participants will form teams and will ideate and present a fully baked-out technology concept.

In the Building Phase, participating teams will focus on intentional, yet rapid growth. Teams will create a business plan, a functioning prototype, a white paper, and pitch to a panel of judges and the public. Participants in the Building Phase should leave with a competitive startup, a prototype ready for market testing, a white paper outlining the team’s iterative design process, and the skills necessary to sustain success in their respective industries while being a catalyst of further indigenous innovation. The five-month Building Phase takes place from June to Nov. 2019. Applications for the Building Phase will be released next April.

Visit to learn more about the Purple Prize.

The Purple Prize is a project of Purple Maiʻa Foundation.

Purple Maiʻa Foundation
Purple Maiʻa Foundation is a technology education nonprofit whose mission is to educate and inspire the next generation of community serving technology makers and problem solvers. We support indigenous values in contemporary tech culture, and we think that by teaching our students to innovate as indigenous technologists, we can be part of a global shift toward growing more sustainable societies.

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