University Economic Development Association

Awards Session: Talent

University of Hawaii Pacific Business Center Program- Developing a Digital Economy in Yap

Speakers: Avegalio Failautusi – Director
Lubuw Falanruw – CEO, iBoom! Waab, Inc.

The remote island chain of Yap state stretches across 100,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean as part of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) located south of Guam in the western Pacific. Yap is among the most remote and traditional of the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands. There existed an urgent need to create new alternatives that empower remote islands, fill critical technology gaps in their communities, generate jobs with career paths, ignite local entrepreneurs, and introduce digital economies never before seen in the FSM Pacific nation. Building-out a telecommunications infrastructure for that purpose, would traditionally be done by outside contractors with significant resource support. Perennial funding issues exacerbated by the COVID – 19 pandemics not only shut down borders and travel but amplified the vital need for reliable internet connectivity to remote and isolated islands more than ever. Boom! Inc., a licensed telecommunications company in Yap State, (FSM) headed by technology entrepreneur and indigenous Yapese, Mr. Lubuw Falanruw boldly took up the challenge to upgrade communications and digital infrastructure to put Yap State and all of the FSM to world standards. Rather than delaying these much-needed developments, Lubuw launched iBoom! Waab, Inc., with a ground team composed of local Yapese citizens, to tackle this daunting task themselves. Lubuw’s background in modern technology, together with his fellow Pacific Islanders’ indigenous knowledge and passion to better their island, resulted in the remote training of a local workforce who successfully provided high speed internet service to over 40 sites.


University of Kansas- Haskell Environmental Research Studies Institute (HERS)

Speakers:  Jay Johnson – Professor of Geography & Atmospheric Science, and Director of the Center for Indigenous Research, Science, and Technology

The Haskell Environmental Research Studies (HERS) program aims to prepare future Native American Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professionals to understand the myriad impacts of environmental and climate change and to develop strategies for sustainable responses that combine Indigenous ecological knowledge with scientific approaches. The eight-week summer internship provides instruction and field research experiences for up to fifteen interns in wetland, prairie, and mountain ecosystems.

The HERS program is unique in its design and curriculum and aimed at preparing American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander undergraduate students for graduate study. The HERS program curriculum is dedicated to the promotion of Indigenous research and methodologies, and is comprised of five major areas: research and Indigenous communities, information literacy, critical thinking and writing, GIS and fieldwork, and professional development. Interns work closely with KU graduate student mentors and choose individual research topics at the intersection of Indigenous and environmental sciences.

The HERS program was established in 2008 as a collaborative project between Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) and the University of Kansas (KU), and was funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF) Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (Kansas NSF EPSCoR). From 2008-2014, there were five cohorts, totaling 71 interns. HERS was reestablished in 2017 through a new grant from NSF EPSCoR. Since its reestablishment in 2017, there have been four cohorts with 53 interns, bringing the grand total of HERS interns to 124.


University of Oklahoma – OU Startup Programs

Speakers: Drew Hendricks – Interim Director

Purposed with creating good companies and exceptional founders, Startup Programs trains and mentors the entrepreneurially minded students, researchers, and community partners of the University of Oklahoma.

Startup Programs supports entrepreneurs at critical stages of development, providing guidance and resources to carry entrepreneurs through ideation, testing, funding, and launch through strategic community partnerships with public and private entrepreneurial support organizations.

Our three primary programs adapt to entrepreneurs’ individual needs and remain viable options for businesses at any size or stage. They are open to OU students and University affiliates (i.e., alumni, faculty, staff, and other partners).

Programs are industry agnostic. Cohorts of founder and workforce track members work on a broad swath of projects. From quantum physics to hair accessories, we focus on creating more opportunities within the Oklahoma entrepreneurial ecosystem. As a university led program, we expand OU’s work in economic and workforce development – feeding top tier talent and launching promising businesses into our communities.

Within two years we have helped launch 22 companies, developed from idea, to MVP, to functioning business models within OU’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Along with direct startup success, we have created workforce development tracks for members who want to train and hone the skills learned in the classroom in partnership with our fledgling founders. This has created a community of collaborative, multidisciplinary peers and near-peers now actively supporting the broader Oklahoma startup community.

This is in line with our goals of building better bridges of cooperation and support between OU and community entrepreneurial support organizations.


October 10 @ 13:45
13:45 — 15:00 (1h 15′)

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