Recipe for Success

The Maui Food Innovation Center

The Maui Food Innovation Center (MFIC) at the University of Hawai‘i Maui College (UHMC) recently awarded a total of $5,000 to three emerging food producers on Maui for winning the “investor pitch” competition through its Maui Accelerator Program (MAP).

The awardees where chosen from MAP’s first cohort of twelve Maui-based businesses and the winning products included a natural raw energy bar, cultured macadamia nut hummus and uniquely flavored cookies. The Maui Accelerator Program provides support to value-added food businesses and entrepreneurs in the form of training, community resources, and access to a certified commercial kitchen at UHMC. The program provides an overview of business planning and marketing, good manufacturing practices, industry trends, packaging, and food industry requirements required for wholesale, retail and export markets.

“It is extremely rewarding to work with and develop Maui’s talented food entrepreneurs through the Maui Food Innovation Center’s Maui Accelerator Program that offering mentoring and formal training in food industry issues and business development to help these young businesses succeed,” said Chris Speere, site coordinator for MFIC. “Our MAP participants learn to improve productivity, gain financial efficiency and increase revenue growth through persistence, desire and a commitment to excellence in the products they produce.”

The Maui Food Innovation Center utilizes existing programs and services to best serve its clients, avoid duplication and create partnerships to make efficient and effective use of funding and resources. Partnerships include shared referrals, in-kind services, space sharing and other shared resources.

Last year, MFIC was a winner of the 2015 U.S. Small Business Administration’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition. The $50,000 award was used to support MAP, which targets women and minority owned enterprises, including Native Hawaiian-led businesses.

(Above, L-R) SBA check presentation: UH President David Lassner, VP for Community Colleges John Morton, Congressman Mark Takai, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, MFIC Site Coordinator Chris Speer and U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono

“The Maui Food Innovation Center is an important program that will offer both the training and facilities needed by local food entrepreneurs to build a small business,” said Lui Hokoana, chancellor of UHMC. “We’re excited the project has been recognized nationally, and this additional award will increase learning opportunities for students.”