- Associated Press - Saturday, November 1, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The University of Utah wants to foster young entrepreneurs with a new building inspired by the offices of technology companies like Facebook and Google.

The $43 million Lassonde Studios Building will combine creative dorm rooms with high-tech working space for students to test business ideas and launch ventures. Set to open in the fall of 2016, it’s designed to give students a single place to live, sleep and work in a building designed to encourage experimentation and collaboration like Silicon Valley companies.

The building will be paid for with student housing fees and private donations, including $12 million from mining magnate Pierre Lassonde, who earned an MBA from the university in 1971.

It’ll have 400 beds for students, including a design officials say was invented for the building: a 7-by-7 foot, private living area that’s movable within a larger suit. Each so-called pod will have a bed and storage space and be movable within a larger suite that has a bathroom, kitchen and communal space for tinkering with ideas.

The concept sounds good to business student Alex Carr, who launched a business called CharPoles selling ski poles with camera mounts for the popular small GoPro video cameras. He told The Salt Lake Tribune that he’s hoping the entrepreneur complex will bring together students from across campus to team up on projects.

When he was starting his business, he and his friend met in campus apartments, then moved to a warehouse before space operated by the university’s business school became available.

Carr took a year off college to launch the venture, but he said that he could have stayed in school if he’d had the resources planned for the Lassonde Studios building, including 20,000 square feet of workshop space and 3-D printers.

“To me, that space is like a dreamland,” he said.

The university is taking applications for the building from undergraduate and graduate students of all majors. Housing authorities haven’t yet decided how they’ll choose the 400 residents or how much it’ll cost to live there, said Barb Remsburg, director of housing and residential education.

Troy D’Ambrosio, executive director of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, said giving students startup space and tools give them more chances to take risks.

“Even if the business isn’t successful, they still learn a lot about it,” he said. “It’s OK to try and fail and learn from it and do other stuff.”

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