New UH center will foster next generation of innovative entrepreneurs

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 4:01 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2022 at 4:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - University of Hawaii at Manoa students who want to control their own destinies by starting their own businesses will soon have a building where they can develop their ideas.

“It is always hard in a campus as large as Manoa to find what I call birds of a feather, other students who are also interested in entrepreneurial activities,” said Susan Yamada, executive director of the UH Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurs.

The RISE project will be built around a renovated Charles Atherton YMCA, the pink building on University Avenue.

RISE stands for Residences for Innovative Student Entrepreneurs. The multi-story live, work and learn center will have 374 dormitory beds and more than 7,200 square feet of program space for students.

“The work component is they’ll actually work on vetting their ideas, creating their ideas, and finding teammates. Eventually we hope the most successful ones launch,” Yamada said.

PACE at the Shidler Business College created RISE.

To help with construction costs, First Hawaiian Bank Foundation and former bank president Walter Dods, Jr. contributed $500,000 to the UH Foundation.

“What has to come as part of that the PACE program and the RISE program is trying to support them in the broader community where they can start a business or join an existing business with new ideas,” bank president Bob Harrison said.

A classroom in the learning space will be named after Dods. The new RISE center will point innovative students in the right direction.

“We hope we help them try to discover what market their innovation will be most successful in,” Yamada said.

RISE will try to attract students from all areas of study to bring different perspectives to business start-ups and help diversify Hawaii’s economy..

“It’s just a good investment in higher education in general and UH in particular,” Harrison said.

The RISE center will be completed and ready for students by the Fall of 2023.

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