Our Islands, Our Future

During a recent Maui TechOhana meeting organized by Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB) and supported by the County of Maui, participants learned about the inspiring work being done at the Maui Food Innovation Center (MFIC) located on the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College (UHMC) campus. Ian Stewart, UHMC Entrepreneurship and Business Development Specialist for the Pā‘oihana Program, was joined by Chef Douglas Paul to explain the work being done at the MFIC. Attendees discussed the benefits of the first value-added food manufacturing incubator and accelerator in Hawaiʻi and learned about the entrepreneurial programs and services available at MFIC. The presenters also shared some of the success stories emerging from the program.

The work done in the MFIC Laulima Education, Research, and Test Kitchen facility, with its attached classroom, is focused on the food and manufacturing industry. The 1,500 square foot space has $90,000 in specialized equipment, and MFIC plans to install a remote camera system to enable statewide distance learning. Along with the manufacturing facility, the program provides technological expertise, innovative training, and consultation. Serving as a resource hub for new and established food businesses, students, farmers, ranchers, chefs, and restauranters, the program also helps bring products to market locally, regionally, and nationally.

“Through education and access to industry leaders, our vision is to help develop cottage-size companies into medium-sized food manufacturers in the state of Hawaiʻi,” said Chef Paul. “The MFIC shared-use food business incubator and processing facility offers a vast array of resources and technologies to foster growth in our community.”

Stewart’s current role at UHMC has him encouraging entrepreneurship as part of a Minority Business Development Agency issued grant. “Supporting our Native Hawaiian food business owners, local food systems, and fresh produce industry is more important than ever,” Stewart noted. “Maui’s wildfire challenges and the current economy make it vital for our island to be self-sufficient and resilient when it comes to growing food.”

Dylan Schwarzmeier of Veg-Out shared, “MFIC is a fantastic opportunity for anyone who wants to bring a small-idea food product and turn it into a scalable market. MEDB’s TechOhana meetings provide an essential boost to help our local community succeed in every way possible.”

This excellent Maui TechOhana meeting gave everybody the opportunity to see innovation happening, not only in technology, but also in Hawaiʻi’s agriculture and food production.
Candace Shaw, CEO, Astute Consulting