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Salt Lake City – The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah announced today a $12 million gift from Pierre Lassonde, bringing his total contribution to $25 million. The new donation will be used for a building for student entrepreneurs. Estimated to cost $45 million, the 148,000-square-feet facility will unite 412 residences with 20,000-square-foot “garage” space for students to gather, build prototypes and launch companies. Officials expect the building to catapult the university’s reputation for entrepreneurship education.
The facility will be called the Lassonde Studios: Live. Create. Launch. Groundbreaking is scheduled for fall 2014, with students moving in fall 2016.
“This building is the materialization of Pierre Lassonde’s visionary approach to student innovation and entrepreneurism,” said David Pershing, president of the university. “The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute has a distinctive mission to provide hands-on learning experiences that allow students to test their ideas and succeed on their own terms.”
Lassonde previously pledged $13 million to create what is now known as the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute. His vision was to create a place where students from different majors could collaborate and learn about entrepreneurship by creating, connecting with resources and launching companies. The new donation will further this vision by bringing numerous programs under one roof and allowing even more students to get involved.
The new facility is planned to have the same versatility and durability as an industrial loft building. The ground floor’s studio workshops will have 3D printers, power tools, office space, lounge areas and more. Surrounding the work space will be student residences in the form of loft areas for groups and small, moveable pods for individuals. The entire building will use a “universal grid” that will allow sections to be remodeled and repurposed based on student needs.
While planning the building, University of Utah staff travelled the country looking at entrepreneur spaces while engaging hundreds of students, faculty and partners during months of intense planning. Contractors involved include EDA Architects, Cannon Design and ARUP.
“The most important natural resource we have is not gold but our young people, our next generation,” Lassonde said. “It is vital that we support and encourage them to challenge themselves and find creative ways to work together.”