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Germinate’s Background

A  journey of cultivation and growth

We’re Germinate by HIplan, based in Hilo, Hawaii since 2015. We are a 501c3 tropical agrifood and aquaculture technology innovation ecosystem-building nonprofit.

Our journey to agrifood and aquaculture innovation started with running an annual $25,000 grand prize business plan competition.  After five years of the biz plan competition, we saw that agrifood is a passion of Hawaii businesses and we saw the need for increased innovation in the cluster.


We have now transitioned to accelerating the development and commercialization of sustainable agrifood and aquaculture innovations through building the innovation ecosystem for Hawaii and the Asia Pacific region. 

Germinate by HIplan Team

Who We Are

The team at Germinate is bringing ecosystem members together to create an environment that lowers barriers for Hawaii entrepreneurs to successfully take their solutions to market. 


Executive Director

Meet our Executive Director

Jason brings vision to Germinate's work in making Hawaii a global leader in sustainable tropical agrifood and aquaculture innovation.  As Executive Director of HIplan, he has evaluated and worked on ways to help reduce risks and increase efficiencies and productivity in Hawaii's agrifood system through science, technology and innovation.  Jason believes this is a strategic economic development opportunity that can create a tech industry in Hawaii that makes sense. An industry where those who have success will stay in Hawaii because it leverages Hawaii's competitive advantages.

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Board of Directors
Chairman Jim Wyban, Rebecca Choi, Wayne Morris and Gregg Taketa

Meet the Germinate by HIplan Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors comprises distinguished professionals who bring a wealth of expertise and passion to Germinate. Jim Wybam, a veteran researcher and entrepreneur leads the team with extensive experience building successful businesses. Rebecca Choi, an experienced entrepreneur and finance professional, offers invaluable insights into eco-friendly and socially responsible entrepreneurship. Wayne Morris, with his corporate management background, and founder of startups provides a strategic approach to business growth and development. Gregg Taketa, a certified public accountant (CPA), lends his financial acumen and expertise in regulatory compliance, ensuring that our participants are well-versed in the financial and legal aspects of running a business. Their combined experience and passion for entrepreneurship make them a formidable force in driving the success of Hawaii startups.

Germinate by HIplan:

Cultivating Innovation in Hawaii's Agrifood Industry

Decades of Experience, Deep Roots: Germinate leverages the extensive business, research, and innovation expertise of its leadership, exemplified by Jim Wyban's and Jason Ueki's successful journey.

From Farm to Industry Leader: Starting with traditional Hawaiian fishpond practices at Lokoea, documented in Carol Wyban's book, Tide and Current, Jim then led the development of Specific Pathogen Free (SPF) shrimp breeding technology at the Oceanic Institute as Principal Investigator of the USDA funded US Marine Shrimp Farming Program.  Jim left the Oceanic Institute to commercialize the technology with the launch of a bootstrapped startup and the world's first SPF shrimp breeding company, High Health Aquaculture. High Health Aquaculture benefited from nine SBIR awards (5 phase 1 and 4 phase 2) that were matched by the Hawaii SBIR program at HTDC.  The commercialization of this innovation fueled the global SPF shrimp broodstock industry and elevated Pacific white shrimp to the top global aquaculture product.

Building the Ecosystem: After 20 successful years at High Health Aquaculture, Jim exited and established HIplan, a 501c3 non-profit fostering entrepreneurship in Hawaii's food, agriculture, and aquaculture sectors. Under Executive Director, Jason Ueki's leadership, HIplan has run business plan competitions, hackathons, Demo Days, ongoing entrepreneur meetups and convened key industry events like the Tropical AgTech Conference and THRIVE Hawaii Agrifood Summit.

Growth and Impact: Recognized by the SBA as a Growth Accelerator Fund Competition awardee, HIplan now partners with organizations in Hawaii, Guam, California, North Carolina and Kentucky to accelerate the development of the tropical agrifood and aquaculture tech ecosystem in Hawaii and the US Pacific Islands.

Jason and Jim are also awardees of the 2023 Hawaii Venture Capital Association's "Startup Paradise Champions of the Year" for their dedication to building entrepreneurship in Hawaii. 

Future Focus: By supporting startups in generating IP, Germinate by HIplan aims to boost economic development, enhance Hawaii's food security and empower similar operations across the Asia Pacific region.


Collaborate With Us

For More Information or to support our efforts
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Mentorship Program

We welcome mentors

We are seeking mentors to help our founders develop and thrive. If you are experienced in business, science, technology or innovation, please reach out. We are building a team of mentors for Hawaii agrifood and aquaculture tech startup founders.

Connecting the Innovation Ecosystem

We welcome connectors

Building the tropical agrifood and aquaculture innovation ecosystem requires us to work together.  We are seeking leaders from food, agriculture, aquaculture, energy, water, waste management, policy makers, community leaders and more to help us build a cohesive community around agrifood innovation.

Financial Support

We welcome support

Our work is important for Hawaii's future.  We are seeking charitable funding for our 501c3 nonprofit work.  We are also seeking sponsorship for specific programs.  If you are able to provide support, there may be tax benefits, seek advice from your tax advisor.

Join us and be part of the solution!

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