Unique Gait Trainer wins UH Breakthrough Innovative Challenge

Winners of the 2018 UH Breakthrough Innovative Challenge.

On Thursday, November 15, the Shidler College of Business’ Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) conducted the final round and announced the winners of the 2018 University of Hawaii (UH) Breakthrough Innovation Challenge. Inspired by his brother who lives with cerebral palsy, Mechanical Engineering student, Austin Yoshino, designed a customizable gait trainer that incorporates gyroscopic technology in the wheels. This improved design will assist users to walk for longer periods of time, increasing the possibility of walking independently in the future. Austin and his idea called “G-Trainer” captured the top prize of $2,000.


This year’s challenge was sponsored by one of the State’s largest CPA firms, Accuity LLP. Nearly 80 people from the UH and the community attended the event, which was held at the Waialae Country Club.


Prior to the final event, contestants, who are UH students, submitted a 2-minute video in which they detailed their breakthrough idea and its market potential. A preliminary judging panel selected five finalists. PACE then matched  he finalists with coaches from the local business community to help the teams further identify commercial opportunities for the idea and develop a five-minute presentation.


Five Finalists:

• Dive Buddy – a self-driving boat drone that flags and follows scuba divers

• G-Trainer – a device for people who need assistance with walking

• Heaterator – a portable lunch box system that keeps food cold or hot

• Okaraust – a gluten-free pizza dough using okara, a tofu byproduct

• Vert – a system that enables the growth of plants on an inclined vertical surface


Dive Buddy took home the 2nd prize of $1,000. Okaraust captured the $1,000 Audience Choice award that was determined by audience votes.


The finalists presented their ideas to a judging panel comprised of Dana Cotter, Director of Portfolio for Elemental Excelerator; Julia Okinaka, President of Accuity Consulting Services; Tarik Sultan, Managing Partner of Sultan Ventures; and Susan Yamada, Director of UH Ventures for the UH System. The panel was tasked with determining a first and second place winner.


“This event showcases and celebrates the innovative ideas of our students at UH,” said Peter Rowan, Executive Director of PACE. “All of the finalists this year study disciplines other than business, so for them, it’s their first taste of business and entrepreneurial concepts. Our hope is that they are inspired by the experience, and decide to further develop their idea by competing in the more rigorous Spring business plan competition.”


About UH Breakthrough Innovation Challenge

Now in its 9th year, the UH Breakthrough Innovation Challenge is an entrepreneurial competition that exposes UH students in all disciplines to entrepreneurial and innovative ways of thinking; provides a platform for participants to showcase their ingenious ideas to offer more efficient, stronger, better, and novel products or services; and brings recognition and attention to outstanding entrepreneurs at UH. The Challenge matches competitors with business mentors and teaches students to research market opportunities, seek customer validation, and determine the commercial potential of their idea. The Challenge is sponsored by Accuity LLP and organized by the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship in partnership with the UH College of Engineering, the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, the William S. Richardson School of Law, and UH iLab. For more information, visit pace.shidler.hawaii.edu/bic