The Purple Prize is an innovation competition that brings together people across sectors to build technology solutions that create value for land and people. Purple Prize projects are forces for sustainability and systems-change and are the foundation of a local technology sector rooted in Kanaka Maoli values.


We believe that the exponential power of technology can be a vessel for scalable, positive impacts when innovation is grounded in the ethos of Native Hawaiian culture; cross-pollinates with the priorities and competencies of the related fields of social entrepreneurship and sustainability; and builds impactful, scalable technology companies that transform the status quo and plant the seeds of an Indigenous innovation ecosystem here in Hawaiʻi.


The competition is broken into two phases that allow for (1) discovery and (2) accelerated growth.

The Connections Phase

The Connections Phase entails a series of workshops and immersive experiences where participants co-learn about culture and business skills, connect with each other and understand a different framework for thinking about technology, business, and their roles in Kanaka Maoli resurgence and creating a better future for all who call Hawaiʻi home. Ultimately, participants will form teams and will ideate and present a fully baked-out technology concept.

The Building Phase

In the Building Phase, participating teams will focus on intentional, yet rapid growth. Teams will create a business plan, a functioning prototype, and pitch to a panel of judges and the public. Participants in the Building Phase should leave with a competitive startup, a product or service ready for market, a white paper outlining the team’s iterative design process, and the skills necessary to sustain success in their respective industries while being a catalyst of further indigenous innovation.

Our History

In 2016, wanting to foster a thriving, place-based local tech industry that runs on a sense of kuleana and Hawaiian values, the Purple Maiʻa Foundation launched the Purple Prize, a unique contest designed to push the limits in the way technology facilitates and amplifies the values of aloha ʻāina. Our goal with this initial competition was to encourage collaboration between our local technical community and a community of cultural practitioners. We asked, how can we build technologies that rebuild, heal, or transform our relationships with the land and each other? How can technology aid in solving the hard societal problems that are our kuleana to tackle?

In a competition starting in the spring and ending in the fall, 6 teams took up the challenge of competing, with three winning cash prizes to continue to pursue their projects. Encouraged by this initial success, Purple Prize 2017: Waiwai Challenge focused on water resources and creating real value for communities. 2017 saw an expanded competition with 11 teams working on higher quality projects, with four teams winning over $40k in prizes. Teams from both years have gone on to complete their projects, build enterprises, and win further funding and investment.