(Honolulu, HI, Apr. 17, 2009) Governor Linda Lingle today named three recipients of the Governor’s Innovation Awards for their commitment to creative thinking and new ideas which result in better products, services and processes, while also improving Hawaii’s future.

Through disruptive ideas, as one of our award winners refers to innovation, this latest group of innovators is helping us all realize the importance of looking beyond what’s always been done, and striving for how we can do things better, said Governor Lingle. As these award winners demonstrate, innovation can be something as simple as using native plants to landscape our roadways, to more leading-edge development of new technologies that can restore people’s sight or generate valuable products from marine algae.

The recipients of the Governor’s Innovation Award for February 2009 are as follows:

Innovation by an Individual: Hank Wuh

In 2003, Hank Wuh founded Cellular Bioengineering Inc. (CBI), a Hawaii-based developer of technologies with biomedical and biodefense applications. CBI searches for what Wuh calls disruptive ideas and disruptive technologies that will eventually overturn the status quo and change the future. Wuh’s company has the worldwide license for the development of a bio-integrating polymer corneal substitute called the EYEGENIXTM Artificial Cornea which aims to return the gift of sight to millions of people. Other products are a paint-and-peel gel that can enhance biohazard cleanup and a nanochip that can track pills to thwart counterfeited drugs. With a company motto of Invent. Disrupt. Inspire. Wuh and his team at CBI are ensuring that Hawaii remains at the forefront of innovative thinking.

Innovation by an Organization: HR BioPetroleum, Inc. (HRBP)

HRBP is a Hawaii-based renewable energy technology company focused on utilizing marine microalgae to produce biofuel feedstocks and other valuable products. The company developed a proprietary process called ALDUO™ technology that leverages the photosynthetic power and rapid growth characteristics of microalgae to convert sunlight, CO2, and other nutrients into inexpensive vegetable oils and biomass. HRBP’s algae cultivation technology has been demonstrated through a pilot facility on the Kona Coast of the Big Island.

Innovation in Government: Department of Transportation Highways Division

The state Department of Transportation has been working with plant specialists at the University of Hawaii at Mnoa to address cost-efficient and environmentally friendly ways to landscape Hawaii’s roadways. Through this partnership, the Highways Division has been successful in planting native groundcover along bare areas of state roadways instead of nonnative Bermuda grass that has been predominately used in the past. The use of certain native varieties saves on irrigation, eliminates the need for harmful herbicides and requires minimal maintenance. One example is the Pili grass, which tolerates low-rainfall conditions, and does not need to be mowed. Another native grass, the Akaaki, is salt-tolerant and is being used to landscape roads adjacent to sandy beach areas where saltier, nonpotable water can be used for irrigation.

Governor Lingle initiated the monthly 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 Hawaii Innovation Initiative, a comprehensive plan to transform Hawaii’s economy from one dependent on land development to one that builds on human ingenuity and the ability of Hawaii’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 selection.

For additional information or to submit a nomination, visit www.hawaii.gov/gov/innovation-award.


For more information, contact:
Lenny Klompus
Senior Advisor, Communications
Phone: (808) 586-7708

Russell Pang
Chief of Media Relations
Phone: (808) 586-0043