Public Funding Resources in Hawaii

Finding capital in the early development phase of the business cycle is a challenging endeavor in any economy. Identifying and pursuing state and federal grant opportunities can be an excellent source of funding for pre-commercial stage companies. For more information, please click on the funding topic.

Public Sources of Funding: Grants

1) SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research)  
Summary: The SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) and STTR (Small Business Technology Transfer) programs, two competitively awarded, three-phase Federal Government programs, are designed to stimulate technological innovation and provide opportunities for small business. The SBIR program solicitations are issued by eleven Federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

2) CEROS (Center of Excellence for Research in Ocean Sciences)
Summary: CEROS is a State of Hawaii agency administratively attached to the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), that seeks to advance innovative concepts and new approaches to technology.  All proposals are evaluated by an expert panel for technical merit, innovation, and value according to criteria published in the solicitations.  CEROS’ mission is to support the Department of Defense technology requirements; encourage leading edge R&D in ocean sciences and technology in Hawaii; foster use of ocean R&D facilities in Hawaii; provide an interface between specialized small businesses with expertise in ocean related R&D and DoD users of advanced technology; and develop avenues to ocean science expertise and facilities at the University of Hawaii (UH).

3)HTDC (Hawaii Technology Development Corporation)  
Summary: High Technology Development Corporation is a state agency established by the Hawaii State Legislature in 1983 to facilitate and administer federal and private grants and contracts in support of technology research and to provide technical assistance to small technology businesses so they can successfully compete for these funds and contracts.  The HTDC offers its programs and services statewide, providing assistance and resources to Hawaii’s tech industry entrepreneurs, start-up companies, employers, and job seekers.

4) HTDV (Hawaii Technology Development Venture)  
Summary: HTDV is a project of the Pacific International Center For High Technology Research (PICHTR) and funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) that utilizes the capabilities of Hawaii-based small businesses in performing high technology efforts related to current and future Department of Navy and Department of Defense programs.

5) Bioenergy and crop-related research
SummaryFor Bioenergy concepts and companies that are in their infancy, the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) and the Daniel K. Inouye Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (PBARC) are resources to inquire about research funding.

6) Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E)
Summary:ARPA funds projects that will develop transformational technologies that reduce America’s dependence on foreign energy imports; reduce U.S. energy related emissions (including greenhouse gasses); improve energy efficiency across all sectors of the U.S. economy; and ensure that the U.S. maintains its leadership in developing and deploying advanced energy technologies.

7) Energy Excelerator
Summary: The Energy Excelerator helps seed- and growth-stage startups implement solutions for energy challenges in Hawaii and the Asia Pacific. Once companies prove their technologies in Hawaii’s ideal early test market, they become attractive to other island nations, as well as markets on the U.S. mainland and abroad.  Each year, Energy Excelerator selects 15 startups (from over 200 applicants) with the most innovative solutions to energy challenges faced in Hawaii and the Asia Pacific, that can be scaled to the world.

Public Sources of Funding: Loan Programs

1) Farm and Aquaculture Alternative Energy Loan Program (State of Hawaii)
Summary: In July 2008, Hawaii enacted legislation (HB 2261) which created a loan program for agriculture and aquaculture renewable energy projects. Farmers and aquaculturists may receive loans for projects involving photovoltaic (PV) energy, hydroelectric power, wind power generation, methane generation, bio-diesel and ethanol production. Loans may provide up to 85% of the project cost (up to a maximum of $1,500,000) for a term of up to forty years. To be eligible, the applicant must be a qualified farmer or aquaculturist with a sound credit rating and the ability to repay the loan, as determined by the Department of Agriculture.

2) U.S. Department of Energy – Loan Guarantee Program  (1703)
Summary: The loan guarantee program has been authorized to offer more than $10 billion in loan guarantees for energy efficiency, renewable energy and advanced transmission and distribution projects. Qualifying technologies include: Solar Thermal Electric, Solar Thermal Process Heat, Photovoltaics, Wind, Hydroelectric, Geothermal Electric, Fuel Cells, Daylighting, Tidal Energy, Wave Energy, Ocean Thermal, Biodiesel, Fuel Cells using Renewable Fuels.

3) USDA – Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Loan Guarantees 
Summary: This program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.

Information summaries extracted from funding websites, Enterprise Hawaii and the Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE).



Important Notice:
Please note that the listings, the associations and contacts herein are provided for informational purposes only and are not meant to be all inclusive. The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism does not endorse or certify the individuals, firms or businesses on these lists. If you are a firm that engages in the specialization of commercial scale renewable energy project development, finance, consulting or investment services, and wishes to be added to the content found in these summary pages, we welcome you to contact us and provide your information for listing.  Please contact Cameron Black at