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Posted at 1:59 a.m., Sunday, May 27, 2007

UH grad students take top business plan honors

News Release

HONOLULU University of Hawai'i Pacific Business Center Program (PBCP) graduate research assistants Renata Matcheva, Doris Miocinovic and Pearl Ueranant recently took the top $20,000 prize in the traditional category of the 8th annual UH Business Plan Competition. Their business plan for Manoa Biosciences (formerly Manoa Transgenics) focused on an innovative gene insertion technology to develop transgenic mice and proprietary gene delivery plasmids that could one day prove its efficiency for gene therapy.

In March, the UH Shidler College of Business MBA students took the same business plan to Asia. In Bangkok, Thailand, they advanced to the semi-final round of the Asia Moot Corp 2007 Business Plan Competition.

"Shidler faculty provide the bulk of the technical support and Shidler provides most of PBCP's graduate student staff," said PBCP director Papalii Dr. Failautusi Avegalio. "PBCP's scope and depth of data, research, professional, technical, student internship and technological services to the region and the state are compelling."

The majority of students that PBCP employs are MBA students at the UH Shidler College of Business, which "U.S. News and World Report" ranks among the nation's top 25 graduate programs for international business. In addition, many of the center's student-staffers are Beta Gamma Sigma honorees, having been in the upper 20 percent of their graduating master's class. -more By applying classroom learning to real-world problems, a number of PBCP graduate assistants have gained valuable experience working at PBCP that has helped them go far in a number of recent UH Business Plan competitions.

Todd Inouye, another current PBCP graduate research assistant, was on one of 32 teams of 67 to reach the semi-finals of the 2007 UH Business Plan Competition. His plan for Chinese language character search software received an honorable mention as one of the top 6 in its category.

In 2006, a team of two PBCP graduate research assistants, Rachelle Fahrni and Renata Matcheva, and their business plan for a natural product to provide farmers with a solution for poultry manure management, was one of six finalists in a field that started out with more than 50 teams.

2005 business plan competitors Sharon Sakuma, Monique Wedderburn, and Melissa Kramer, then PBCP students or staff, finished among six finalists from a field of 60 teams for their plan to market traditional island products online.

Avegalio said, "You are only as good as the people you have working with you." Avegalio attributes the success of PBCP and the HMBEC to the quality of professional and student staff. "Not only do we recruit and select for the best, we encourage creativity and innovation amongst all our staff; looking to creating the future with actions in the present. Not to stop the future but to shape it using modern knowledge guided by ancient wisdom to improve the quality of life and welfare of pacific communities and region we serve."

In addition to groundbreaking work by PBCP graduate students in the advancement of gene therapy, software development and marketing of island products, which has drawn acclaim in Hawai'i and abroad, the center won four consecutive national awards from 2002 to 2005 for its projects in the Marshall Islands, American Samoa, and Hawai'i.

PBCP's Pacific projects were named outstanding project of the year in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 by the University Economic Development Association, formerly called NAMTAC. Work included resettlement planning assistance for the Rongelap Atoll Local Government in the Marshall Islands; business management strategies for the Development Bank of American Samoa; business plans for clients of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs' Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund; connecting Hawaii-based company Oils of Aloha with a candlenut oil processing enterprise in East Timor.

In keeping with its high standards of performance, PBCP has expanded to include the establishment and operation of the Honolulu Minority Business Enterprise Center (HMBEC) inaugurated January 2005. The HMBEC recently received a rating of 'Outstanding' by the Regional Office of the Minority Business Development Administration in San Francisco. Since its inception, it has assisted in creating $58 million in financial transactions for minority business enterprises.

"Our vision, mission statement and core values drive everything we do," said Avegalio. "Our formula is simple. Clear purpose, plus core values, plus quality staff, plus quality support equals quality service."