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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 2, 2009

3 in Hawaii win governor's innovation awards

Advertiser Staff

Gov. Linda Lingle today recognized three recipients of the Governor’s Innovation Awards for their role in helping Hawai‘i create an innovation-based economy and a stronger future for the state.

The recipients for October include a biotechnology firm that is making important advances in life sciences, a University of Hawai‘i planetary astronomer whose scientific achievements include the discovery of the rings of Jupiter, and a state government agency that is helping to set the foundation for alternative fuel transportation in Hawai‘i and the nation.

The winners have developed innovative solutions to challenges, invented and implemented new technologies with worldwide applications, and contributed to the long-term economic well-being of the state.

The recipients are:

Innovation by an Organization: Nanopoint, Inc.

Nanopoint, Inc. is a Honolulu-based biotechnology company that is making important advancements in the study and treatment of diseases with its live cell imaging solutions. Nanopoint's imaging system products have broad applications to reproductive technology, drug discovery and testing, cell culturing, and biopharmaceutical production, and other life science research where live cell analysis is important. The company has also established a network of research collaborations with medical centers, biotech companies and academic institutions, including the University of Hawai‘i, Queen’s Medical Research Center and Hawai‘i Biotech.

Innovation by an Individual: Dr. Tobias Owen

University of Hawai‘i planetary astronomer Dr. Tobias Owen is one of the world's leading solar system astronomers. His areas of expertise include comets, the origin and evolution of planetary and satellite atmospheres, and the origin and distribution of life in the universe. His scientific achievements include the discovery of the rings of Jupiter and noble (inert) gases and heavy water on Mars. Over his 40-year career, he has worked on numerous space missions, including Apollo 15 and 16 (launched in 1969), the Viking mission to Mars (1976), the Voyager missions to the outer planets (1977), and the Galileo mission to Jupiter (1989).

Owen was recently recognized by the American Astronomical Society, Division for Planetary Sciences, “for his outstanding contributions to the field of planetary sciences.” In 2006, he received the University of Hawai‘i Regents’ Medal for Excellence in Research. He joined the UH Institute for Astronomy in 1990.

Innovation in Government: Hawai‘i Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies

The Hawai‘i Center for Advanced Transportation Technologies focuses on finding alternative fuel transportation solutions to decrease Hawai‘i’s dependence on imported fuel. A state agency under the Hawai‘i Technology Development Corporation, the center has partnered with local and Mainland companies, the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Transportation, educational institutions and other organizations to develop and demonstrate advanced transportation technologies, including battery-powered electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, and vehicle charging infrastructure. The center also recently partnered with the U.S. Air Force Advanced Power Technology Office at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., to manage the National Demonstration Center for Alternative Fuel Vehicles at Hickam Air Force Base. As a result of this partnership, the first fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen production and fueling station were introduced into Hawai‘i and the Air Force.

Lingle initiated the 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 nominees are evaluated monthly by a 15-member selection panel comprising 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 Lingle for her approval.

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