RISE center at University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa inspired by Utah’s Lassonde Studios

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RISE is a six-story, live-learn-work facility, with a 10,000 square foot innovation space on the lower floor. Photo Courtesy: UH Mānoa

The $70 million Residences for Innovative Student Entrepreneurs – a state-of-the-art innovation and entrepreneurship center and student housing facility scheduled for an August opening on the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus – is expected to be a catalyst for student-led entrepreneurial activity.

RISE is modeled after the Lassonde Studios, a University of Utah student innovation and housing facility.

“It’s going to change your campus,” said Troy D’Ambrosio, Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute executive director. “It’s going to change individual lives. It’s going to have a transformative experience for the people that go through that program and take advantage of the resources there.”


The five-story Lassonde Studios features a 20,000-square-foot innovation space on the bottom floor to connect, test ideas, build prototypes, launch companies and learn by doing. The top four floors house 400 student residents. RISE is a six-story, live-learn-work facility, with 10,000 square foot innovation space on the lower floor outfitted with maker, meeting and classroom spaces for multi-purpose co-working. The top five floors will house 374 student residents.

Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship in the UH Mānoa’s Shidler College of Business will operate the entrepreneurship program at RISE. PACE members have made multiple trips to Lassonde Studios. D’Ambrosio has been working closely with PACE and has visited the Mānoa campus.

“Lassonde Studios, that’s the pioneer in live-learn-work communities and he (D’Ambrosio) shared his playbook and we ran with it,” said PACE Executive Director Sandra Fujiyama. “We were able to leverage everything he’s done so we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, and take his lessons learned and implement them at RISE so that we could bring this opportunity to our students.”


That includes the various programs that will be offered at RISE and the design of the facility itself including the makerspaces, recording studio, incubation and other collaborative spaces along with the furniture and equipment. PACE also wants to replicate Lassonde’s success in making the students feel like the facility is “their space.”

“They’re very much taking the attitude we took here which is, ‘What do you as a student want to do as an entrepreneur? What do you want to do on campus? What things will make it easier and better for you to engage and find other students to be entrepreneurs with?’” said D’Ambrosio.

Current and prospective students at any of the 10 University of Hawai‘i campuses are welcome to apply. For more information and to apply starting in fall 2023, visit the RISE website.

The five-story Lassonde Studios features a 20,000-square-foot “innovation space” on the bottom floor. Photo Courtesy: UH Mānoa

One of the goals of RISE is to offer local students an experience at the University of Hawai‘i that, before RISE, could only be found on the continent.

Javis Agreda, a 2021 Kauaʻi High School graduate, chose the University of Utah because of Lassonde Studios and the resources and programs supporting his majors of strategic communications and information systems.

Agreda lives on the gaming and technology floor at Lassonde and said the entire community is very welcoming and supportive. Agreda said if RISE was opened when he graduated from high school, he would have considered attending the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

“Having an institution and a program like that to support me, I feel I would incredibly consider it even more knowing that an institution wants to support me in any endeavor that I want to go into,” Agreda said.

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