Surfboard fin keys made from recycled plastic wins $1K innovation award ( News Hawaii )

three men smiling
Diego Chavez poses for a photo with David and Roselyn Yun, sponsors of the $1,000 Promise Award.

The congregation is led by the University of Hawai’i A student at Mānoa who uses recycled plastic to produce key fins for surfboards has won a $1,000 innovation award from Uh Challenge Breakthrough Innovation. The company was one of eight finalists who received up to $1,000 in funding to implement their findings.

closeup of a key on a surfboard
The fin lock is the key to the surfboard

Entrepreneurship major Student Chavez He is the founder of Gecko Plastics. A surfer from Guatemala has big dreams of removing materials into other products, reducing materials into other products. His five-minute presentation impressed the judging panel and won him the $1,000 Promise Award, sponsored by David and Roselyn Yun.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity. I learned a lot about my business while preparing the pitch, working with consultants and getting feedback from the judges,” said Chavez. “The prize money will allow me to take Gecko Plastics to the next level; from prototype to market-ready product.”

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Breakthrough inventions

people standing and smiling
2022 Uh Breakthrough Innovation Challenge finalists

Hosted by the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PEACE) in Uh The Mānoa Shidler College of Business challenged students to a competition to come up with viable solutions to real-world problems. Competitors offered a diverse range of ideas from the platform, which allows patients to share medical signals for tennis courts with portable cushioning. In the final round on November 17th, eight teams were drafted and conducted before the hearing held at Shidler College.

Prior to the final event, contestants submitted a two-minute video in which they explained their mining idea and its potential market. A preliminary judging panel selected the finalists. PEACE The finalists then met with volunteers from the community to help the contestants further commercial opportunities to identify the idea and develop their five-minute presentations.

The outcome of the challenge was determined by a judging panel of four, which was included Zacharias Kimco-founder and principal of Float Technology; Jill Nakatsudirector of academic affairs for theologians Uh Mānoa College of Engineering; Cindy Matsuki, SBIR manager at Innovate Hawaii; and Mark Tawara, founder of BrightLight Digital. Each judge was given a thumbs up pin emoji that they would use to encourage a “Yes” vote. Each thumb was worth $250, with contestants getting a chance to win up to $1,000. Everyone who left walked away with $250 each.

“This evening was a celebration of creativity, ambition and talent Uh“, says PEACE Executive Director Sandra Fujiyama. “We were pleased to have participation from different fields of study, and all of the contestants are extremely proud of coming out of their closets to share their unique ideas. This is just the beginning of their ventures, and we hope to help them take their ideas forward. PEACE.


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