• Common Ground Kauai

Common Ground Kaua`i Launches the Food Innovation Center

Updated: Nov 17

KĪLAUEA, Hawai`i — November 17, 2020 — Reimagining agricultural-based commerce in Hawai`i, Common Ground Kaua`i today launched the Food Innovation Center to scale an integrated system of businesses built around high value-added agricultural products.

“The COVID-19 crisis reconfirmed the need for Kaua`i to chart a new course, one that embraces innovation, economic diversification, and lays the foundation for a more resilient future,” said Derek Kawakami, mayor of Kaua`i.

“I applaud Common Ground Kaua`i for stepping up to deliver viable economic development solutions like the Food Innovation Center to serve the immediate needs of our community and invest in the long-term sustainability of our island home.” --Mayor Derek Kawakami.

The Food Innovation Center is founded on a collaborative economic model that can be applied throughout the Hawaiian islands to enhance food security, test product innovation, create jobs, and foster economic empowerment. The four program pillars are:

1) Farming@Common Ground blends traditional tropical agroforestry techniques with state-of-the-art biological farming practices, building healthy soil, cultivating biodiversity, and vastly improving yields per acre. The program was recently selected as a workforce development site by Mālama Kaua`i to provide interns with real-time job training and skills related to regenerative organic agriculture.

2) Accelerator@Common Ground is a business development program designed to collaboratively bolster a diversified and sustainable agriculture economy in Hawai`i. Led by Adam Watten and Brian Halweil, inaugural cohort companies Tiny Isle and Slow Island are receiving hard and soft services, funding as an equity investment from Common Ground, business training, and mentorship to scale their businesses and profits exponentially.

3) Incubator@Common Ground provides early stage value-added product companies with essential business training services. Companies will work with Incubator instructor Dirk Soma to develop strategic growth plan goals for 2020 and the future. Cohort companies will be allotted funds to implement strategic growth goals.

4) Distribution@Common Ground will enable local companies, including graduates of the Accelerator and Incubator programs, to market their products to a broader audience and generate additional revenue via an online marketplace for Kaua`i-made, sustainably sourced, value-added products.

“Investing in local businesses and building robust supply chains are central to Common Ground’s mission,” explained Jennifer Luck, director of program development and community impact at Common Ground Kaua`i. “The Food Innovation Center is an economic development roadmap for entrepreneurs, innovators, small businesses, and farmers to scale both ideas and products for consumer demand.”

Several of the Food Innovation Center programs will be initially launched in part through funding provided by a CARES Act grant from the County of Kaua`i Kūpa`a Kaua`i program and in partnership with Kaua`i Government Employees Federal Credit Union. Additional funding was provided by Ulupono Initiative.

“Collaborating with Common Ground Kaua`i and the Food Innovation Center exemplifies the type of public-private partnership that leverages public funds and private resources to create positive community impact,” shared Monica Belz, CEO of Kaua`i Government Employees Federal Credit Union. “Together, we can drive change in our communities.”

In addition to public funding, Common Ground is raising expansion capital via private investors. The organization is currently working with Cushman Wakefield and Hawai`i Life to identify private equity partnerships for further campus upgrades and expansions, including build-out of additional food processing facilities.

About Common Ground Kaua`i

Common Ground Kaua`i is a hub for the global idea exchange of important issues facing Hawai`i. Through public and private partnerships, Common Ground unites change-makers — thinkers, creators, designers, innovators and doers — to produce economic development programs and services to grow a diversified economy on Kaua'i and beyond.

Its Food Innovation Center is designed to transform the supply chain that feeds into the future of a thriving and resilient 21st century food economy. Through farming, accelerator, incubator and distribution initiatives, Common Ground is a test bed for developing the next generation of Hawai`i-based food producers while building a model that can scale to meet a global demand for goods.

Privately held, Common Ground Kaua`i is located on an 83-acre agricultural campus on the former Guava Kai plantation in Kīlauea, Kaua`i, Hawai`i. For more information on Common Ground Kaua`i, please sign up to receive our updates at and follow us on Instagram @kauaicommonground.


Common Ground Kaua`i is a trademark and Farming@Common Ground, Accelerator@Common Ground, Incubator@Common Ground, and Distribution@Common Ground are service marks of Common Ground Kaua`i. All other brand names and product names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

Tags: Common Ground Kaua`i, Hawaii, Kauai, food economy, sustainable agriculture, organic agriculture, food security, biological farming, biodiversity, food producers, workforce development, economic development

Media Contact:

Maile Walters

Common Ground Kaua`i

(808) 855-5748


Common Ground is headquartered on the island of Kauai in Hawaii and recognizes the use of diacritical markings of the modern Hawaiian language including the ʻokina [ ʻ ] or glottal stop and the kahakō [ō] or macron. However, we have omitted these markings throughout our website to ensure the best online experience for our local, national and international users. We respectfully use diacriticals in all of our off-line communications. 

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