A Showcase of UH-Based Research

Imagine an emergency patient having critical blood coagulation information transmitted to the hospital from the ambulance, allowing lifesaving blood products to be ready upon the patient’s arrival. Thanks to iFirst Medical Technologies, the technology for a mobile lab is already here.

 “We can determine the level of trauma associated with trauma patients and get proper blood components to those patients,” said Luke Joseph, creator of iFirst. “We utilize smartphone technology to immediately analyze a patient’s blood.”

Joseph presented his innovation at XLR8UH’s inaugural InnovateUH showcase in March. He and the rest of XLR8UH’s fifth cohort were the focal point of a jam-packed two-hour event that also featured startups tackling diverse issues ranging from sports-related concussions, to biomedical ed-tech using the latest in VR/AR technologies, to natural resource management software.

Although it sounds like a vanity plate belonging to a sports car, XLR8UH is all business as the University of Hawai‘i’s award-winning proof of concept center/venture accelerator that was launched in 2015. A public-private partnership between the University of Hawai‘i and boutique venture firm Sultan Ventures, XLR8UH has already trained and invested in 24 companies and worked with hundreds of founders. More than half of applicants are UH students and another third are faculty. Up to a third of the XLR8UH cohort teams are led by women, far surpassing national averages.

“XLR8UH was started to provide an on-ramp connecting innovation and entrepreneurial initiatives at UH to the commercial sector,” said Omar Sultan, managing partner of XLR8UH. “We are pleased to present events like InnovateUH to increase awareness and to help bring exciting innovations from UH’s stable of talented researchers to market.”

A trio of University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa researchers further energized the audience with their interactive and lively conversations on healthcare, agriculture and energy. Joe Ramos, interim associate director of administration at the University of Hawai‘i Cancer Center, was thrilled to see the program generating a broad spectrum of innovations crossing multiple disciplines, including work in big data, diagnostics and drug development.

“Programs such as XLR8UH and InnovateUH are essential in bringing together faculty, students, and experts to help spark new ideas and further ongoing research,” said Ramos. “Hawai‘i is a hot-bed for exciting innovations.”

College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) Associate Dean and Director for Research J. Kenneth Grace was excited to describe their research with molecular interactions between plants, pests and disease that can lead to plants with natural resistance to multiple threats such as insects and fungus—as the college is assisting with the state’s goal of doubling food production. CTAHR is also looking into natural compounds with uses beyond agriculture, such as corn silk, which is showing some impact on Alzheimer’s disease. A recent innovation includes freezing without icing, which also has biomedical implications. 

On the sustainable energy front, the Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology is focused on linking technology with policy and integration of renewable energy resources. As an example, HNEI Director Richard Rocheleau explained that battery life is currently impossible to determine. However, they are involved in a Hawai‘i-based project to do so—with the potential to go commercial and make a global impact.

“I was pleased with the large turnout and the amount of synergy in the room,” said Vassilis L. Syrmos, UH vice president for research and innovation. “Showcasing the variety and depth of the exciting research we have going on at UH is essential to secure the support of key stakeholders in the local innovation and business communities to help diversify the state’s economy through the Hawai‘i Innovation Initiative.”



A mobile technology platform that provides athletes and physicians ways to identify, measure and monitor sports concussions reducing the risk of re-injury.


A lifesaving blood analysis and management smartphone platform.


A platform for data collection and project management for conservation and agriculture customers saving time and money.


Provides smart and IOT solutions on connected community projects through a patented secure bi-directional communication method.


A web and mobile store app that facilitates shared viewing of medical images by clinicians and their patients within a Mixed Reality environment.