Islands of Innovation (IOI) Summit Highlights

Event on April 20, 2019 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center in Honolulu, Hawai‘i in celebration of the Polynesian Voyaging Society’s conclusion of the Mahalo, Hawaiʻi Sail by Hōkūleʻa. The event focused on advancing island-led solutions to achieve the Aloha+ Challenge and UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Event highlights are below and meet the innovators here.


The Islands of Innovation initiative held a day-long gathering to surface and connect island  solution-makers, innovation accelerators, and community, youth and business leaders to advance the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Together we can build ecosystems of support.

The day was co-created by Hawai‘i Green Growth Local2030 Hub, Global Island Partnership (GLISPA), shift7, Purple Mai’a, Polynesian Voyaging Society and many supportive partners and sponsors:


The Islands of Innovation kicked off with…

His Excellency Tommy E. Remengesau, President of the Republic of Palau/Chair of the Global Island Partnership, Governor Ige, State of Hawai‘i, Nainoa Thompson, President, Polynesian Voyaging Society with Celeste Connors, Executive Director, HGG Local2030 Hub

Followed by Connecting Our Innovation Ecosystems opening conversation with Megan Smith, CEO shift7, Former U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Celeste Connors, HGG Local2030 Hub.


John De Fries, Executive Director of Native Hawaiian Hospitality Association, shared inspiring insights after the opening conversation and facilitated the day as the attendees interacted and learned through a variety of panels, lighting interviews, an interactive session with solution-makers and accelerators, and a conversation on tracking progress. Mahina Paishon-Duarte, Co-Founder of the Ka WaiWai Collective opened the Summit to set the context for the day’s discussions.


Profiles of the solution-makers’ projects are provided at the end of this post.

Island-Led Sustainability Solutions

Dialogue on the role of islands as laboratories for innovation, and opportunities to uplift indigenous knowledge and tech solutions.

Kate Brown, Executive Director of Global Island Partnership (moderator); Ambassador Spencer Thomas, Government of Grenada; Patricia Purcell, Head of Partnerships of UN Global Compact Forum – Cities Programme; David Lassner, President of University of Hawaiʻi System; Kā‘eo Duarte, Vice President of Community Resources of Kamehameha Schools.


Lightning Interviews with Drivers of Innovation – Government Innovators

Pathways for innovation within government to advance sustainability solutions.

Bianca Peters, Co-Founder of 360 Degree Innovation (Aruba), Senator Keohokalole, State of Hawaiʻi, Todd Nacapuy, former CIO of State of Hawaiʻi Technology Services – each in rapid conversation with Megan Smith, shift7 CEO and former U.S.CTO


Panel Discussion: Leading Edge Talks

Creative ways accelerators and incubators are moving the dial on local and global goals.


Miki Tomita, Founder & CEO of Education Incubator (moderator), Amanda Ellis, Director of Asia Pacific Region for Arizona State University Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Aki Marceau, Managing Director of Elemental Excelerator, Omar Sultan, Co-Founder of Sultan Ventures, Bianca Peters, Co-Founder of 360 Degree Innovation (Aruba)


Video: “Inspiration for Islands of Innovation” By Arno Boersma, Founder of Island Impact, previously Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Centre of Excellence for Small Island Developing States (SIDS)


Lightning Interviews with Drivers of Innovation – Indigenous leadership

Island leaders share the potential of indigenous knowledge blended with modern-day high- and low-technology solutions for sustainability.

Ian Musson, Program Director of Kōkiri Startup Accelerator (New Zealand), Dr. Kiana Frank, Pacific Biosciences Research Center, Kelsey Amos, Co-Founder Purple Maiʻa and University of Hawaiʻi Manoa, Kamuela Enos, MAʻO Organic Farms & Board Member of Purple Maiʻa


Interactive: Community Session for Accelerating Island Innovators

Next the event participants heard from 10 Island Innovators who are actively developing transformational solutions for their communities and beyond — and then shared suggestions, connections to networks, and imagination to help scale their solutions.  

Facilitated by Megan Smith, shift7 CEO, former U.S. CTO and Susan Alzner, shift7 Co-founder and Chief of Strategy & Ops, former UN



  • Lauren Roth presented “Follow the Drop” Mobile Application
  • Brian Glazer presented Hohonu
  • Sam Aruch presented Natural Resource Data Solutions (NRDS)
  • Nicole Brodie presented Shifted Energy
  • Matthew Lynch presented The Albizia Project
  • Kamuela Enos presented MAʻO Organic Farms
  • Kaimana Estrella presented Hale Pili Waiwai App
  • Brynn Foster presented Voyaging Foods
  • Alberto González Martínez presented RendezView
  • Savannah Adler presented Microfiber Pollution Reduction

Deep Dive: Learn more about each innovator’s solutions here.

Final Session of the Day

Tracking Local Progress on the Global Goals

HGG Local2030 Hub will release the Aloha+ Challenge Review to mark the 5-year anniversary, which will highlight progress, successes, gaps and opportunities for action using the open-data Aloha+ Dashboard developed by partners. Session and updates led by Celeste Connors, HGG Local2030 Hub and Kate Brown, Global Island Partnership to discuss continued opportunities for collaboration across islands.


The Islands of Innovation initiative will continue to surface and connect local talent across islands with networks to help as they innovate for the UN SDGs through aligning with future innovation events globally and helping to scale sustainability hubs with other island nations.