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Lassonde Entrepreneur Center marks 10 years


t’s been 10 years since the Pierre and Claudette Las- sonde Entrepreneur Center began. What was once

just a “crazy idea” to bring business and science students together has become one of the most successful student entrepreneurial centers in the country.

The Lassonde Center is part of the David Eccles School of Business, which manages the program in partnership with the Technol- ogy Venture Development office. Today, the center includes numerous programs that teach students how to become entrepre- neurs. They include statewide business and idea competitions, student startup incuba- tors and an innovative program that allows graduate students to write business plans for faculty inventors.

“The Lassonde Center has exceeded our expectations since we started it 10 years ago,” said director Troy D’Ambrosio, an experienced executive and entrepreneur. “I remember the first conversations we had about the center, and looking back on it, I’m amazed how far we have come. A lot of the credit goes to the highly motivated students we attract, our many sponsors and advisors, and the incredible generosity of the Las- sonde family.”

In addition to the unmatched student experi- ences provided by the Lassonde Center, the programs have had a measurable impact on the technology commercialization efforts at the University of Utah. The University of Utah is one of the top schools in the nation for commercialization, and students play an important role in that success through the Lassonde Center.

“Our graduate program pairs students from many programs with faculty inventors who have promising technologies, and this is not just an exercise,” D’Ambrosio said. “The students write business plans for the faculty, who often use the plans and hire the stu- dents to help execute them. These students also have become very sought after by local and national companies in areas such as finance and health care.”

Deven Dustin is one of the students who has participated in the graduate program, called the Lassonde New Venture Develop-

ment program. He said the experience was life-changing: “I chose to come to this university because of the many opportuni- ties given to students to develop companies. I am confident that my experi- ence and education with the Lassonde startup company has provided the bulk of my education.”

Many other students make similar com- ments when they finish one of the Las- sonde Center programs. In addition to the New Venture Development program, other popular Lassonde programs include: the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, a business- plan competition where the top team gets $40,000 to start their company; Opportunity Quest, a business summary competition; techTITANs, an idea competition; and the Foundry, an incubator for student startups.

The following numbers illustrate the Las- sonde Center’s impacts:

l The Lassonde Center awards about $100,000 in scholarships each year to graduate students through the New Venture Development program.

l The Lassonde Center awards roughly $125,000 in scholarships annually to

Entrepreneurial Education

The 2010-2011

Lassonde New Venture Development program associates.

undergraduate students who serve as directors of the student competitions.

l About 30 startup companies have come out of the New Venture Development program since 2002.

l Students from universities across the state participate in Lassonde Center programs. Most participate in one of the competitions.

l Students earn more than $100,000 in prize money every year by competing in the student competitions.

l About 1,000 students participate in Las- sonde Center programs every year.

Learn more at

Student program involvement Student Participation

Entrepreneurial & Innovation Programs Student Competitions Education Programs Youth Outreach

Commercialization Intern Program Total Students

870 22

17 909

FY 2010 FY 2011

1,644 173 600 29




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