HTDC Backs AI Incubator at Coworking Hub With Over $100,000

The Hawaii Technology Development Corporation (HTDC) has awarded a $103,968 contract to launch an artificial intelligence incubator at its Entrepreneurs Sandbox facility in Kakaako.

The contract is with the newly-formed Hawaii Center for AI, founded by Pacific broadband executive Peter Dresslar with Nam Vu, chief operating officer at Hub Coworking Hawaii. Hub Coworking Hawaii is the vendor that manages the coworking space at the Sandbox, which is where the accelerator will be hosted.

According to Sandi Kanemori, HTDC contract and project manager, the six-figure award was made under a 2023 request for proposals seeking to fund accelerator and small business training programs. The award was granted “independent from what Hub Coworking does for their management of Sandbox,” she added, although the proposal did designate the facility as its home base.

The incubator was described in a press release as “a new initiative designed to help Hawaii businesses harness the power of AI for growth and innovation.”

“HTDC recognizes the potential for artificial intelligence to transform Hawaii’s business landscape,” Wayne Inouye, HTDC’s acting executive director, said in a prepared statement. ”It represents a step toward fostering cutting-edge AI solutions for Hawaii’s economic future and potential to catalyze an AI-accelerated business local ecosystem.”

“HTDC’s support has been critical in helping our new organization start to address our mission of beneficial AI for all Hawaii,” Vu added in the release. “The overwhelming community response to our workshops underscores the demand for AI guidance and expertise within Hawai‘i’s business landscape.”

He added that the incubator will allow the Hawaii Center for AI to ”directly empower businesses to harness the transformative power of AI for the benefit of our islands.”

The press release explains that the AI Incubator is specifically designed to help both established businesses and startups gain AI fluency, prototype and test AI solutions, and begin to plan their release to market.

“This incubator isn’t just about building AI, it’s about transforming businesses, and through them, our economy,” Dresslar said in the release, saying the program aims to serve “small businesses and new ventures alike” in industries ranging from tourism to healthcare to education.

The incubator will provide participants mentorship, technical expertise, and access to AI technologies.