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As the Residences for Innovative Student Entrepreneurs (RISE) center prepares to open in August, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is enhancing its student-led approach to the programs and activities at the new state-of-art facility. In addition, more than $500,000 in scholarships are available to current and prospective students living at RISE.

words in front of a building

RISE’s entrepreneurship program will be managed by the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) in UH Mānoa’s Shidler College of Business. Ahead of RISE’s opening, the PACE Leaders program will provide students with an opportunity to gain entrepreneurial and leadership skills, while enriching the educational experiences of their peers. PACE Leaders come from a variety of majors and work together to design programs, activities and events to grow a network of entrepreneurial-minded students.

One of the activities that PACE Leaders plan to host for UH students will mirror a funding event that the University of Utah’s Lassonde Studios held. Lassonde Studios, which is the inspiration for UH Mānoa’s RISE, hosts a “Get Seeded” event several times a year. The program allows students to pitch their business ideas and the audience votes for their favorites. Winners are awarded up to $1,500 to kickstart their idea.

Read more about the UH Mānoa RISE center.
To apply, visit the RISE website.

University of Utah sophomore Wesley Bryant and his business partner won first place and $1,500 at the March 2023 “Get Seeded” event. Their company, Ascent Poles, uses bamboo—one of the strongest materials in the world—to create affordable ski poles. The two entrepreneurs had one of the largest groups of supporters, who erupted in cheers when they were named the winner.

“This opportunity is great. It’s going to help my partner and I launch our company, order our inventory,” Bryant said. “And it wouldn’t be possible without this kind of program and going through this process, and having this building here, it means a lot and helps a lot.”

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Lassonde Studios interior

Utah MBA students Michael Sager and Lia Summers were the directors of the “Get Seeded” event.

“Watching young entrepreneurs get their hands dirty and not only go to an office per se for 8–5 and then go to class, they get to live and breathe their idea 24/7,” Sager said. “And what is really awesome to see with ‘Get Seeded,’ we’re actually in a big open area. We have food and we just walk around and say ‘hey, come on out to Get Seeded, come watch this event.’ …That’s just more eyes on a product or idea, and that is fostering growth from within here at Lassonde.”

Summers added, “A lot of what makes this space so perfect for risk, trial and error and not being afraid to fail is other people willing you to succeed. It gives you so much confidence. It gives you so much drive and being a part of the success of others feels just as good as being a part of your own success.”

Excitement builds for PACE Leaders

PACE student leaders, faculty and staff are eager to get a wide variety of events up and running for UH students at RISE.

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Rendering of RISE makerspace (Photo credit: Hunt Development Group)

Asia Nunez, a UH Mānoa junior majoring in entrepreneurship and international business, was a PACE Leader in the spring and will continue on as a PACE Leader, managing the Level Up program as the student director, in the fall. Nunez has an interest in esports, and she organized and moderated a talk story session with T1 Entertainment & Sports CEO Joe Marsh. Nunez hopes to expand on this event in the upcoming school year at RISE.

“I’m really excited especially because there will be a lot more space to work with,” Nunez said. “And the previous events that I hosted, we actually got double or triple the amount of attendees we expected, so it will be really nice to have a lot more space.”

PACE Executive Director Sandra Fujiyama said, “That’s really important because the students really know each other, really know what the other students want and so having them come into the space and take ownership of the space and bring their insight to the programs is key.”

Learn more about the PACE Leaders program.

Current and prospective students at any of the 10 UH campuses are welcome to apply. For more information and to apply starting in fall 2023, visit the RISE website. All RISE student spaces, including student housing rooms, will be open in August. The Atherton wing, which will house office space for UH Foundation and additional ideation space for PACE, is expected to be completed in January 2024.

rendering of building
RISE exterior rendering (Courtesy: Hunt Development Group)
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