On July 23, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the award of $23 million in grants to 44 organizations to create and expand high-growth entrepreneurship and increase access to capital for communities across America. The grants are made annually under the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Regional Innovation Strategies program competition. The 2019 awardees will leverage an additional $26 million in matching funds from a variety of private and public sector sources.
One grant recipient, the Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB), received a $435,000 grant and will leverage $530,000 in local match to Build Hawaii’s Space Economy (BHSE) by coordinating public/private partnerships to leverage the numerous and unique space assets located throughout Hawaii. The program will expand MEDB’s existing STEM education and workforce infrastructure by developing and implementing entrepreneurship training and space-focused career pathway curriculum in 32 of Hawaii’s public institutions, reaching 2,300 secondary students across the state. It will be coupled with select work-based learning including internships and apprenticeship in Hawaii’s commercial space companies.
MEDB will further strengthen the space pipeline by expanding a pilot program (EMER-GEN™), which was introduced in 2018 as a joint initiative of MEDB’s AMOS Conference and Space Generation Advisory Council. The program intends to accelerate the commercialization of technology centered around Hawaii’s space assets in a cohort-based program designed for early-stage professionals and postsecondary students interested in space. The program will offer mentoring with renowned space specialists drawn from an array of fields related to the Space Situational Awareness and Space Traffic Management, with technical skill-building and professional development sessions. The program will offer immersive project-based learning in commercialization opportunities provided by Hawaii-based technologies. Three proposed (BHSE) cohorts will reach 120 participants and provide ongoing business development and commercialization consultation.