Lassonde New Venture Development Center
The Lassonde New Venture Development Center's mission is to assist researchers with breakthrough technologies and determine the commercialization potential of those ideas while providing students a unique educational experience in new business development.
The New Venture Development Center is comprised of graduate students from engineering, science and business. The center is run by an accomplished local entrepreneur, with an advisory board made up of venture capitalists and inventor/entrepreneurs.
During a year-long program, students receive weekly mentoring and teaching from both the executive director and local professionals. Students are trained in the various disciplines involved with early stage business development, from intellectual property to market analysis and strategy to writing a business plan. While receiving this training, students work in teams to evaluate and develop business opportunities based on real technologies coming out of the labs at the University of Utah. The result is an unparalleled, real-world education in technology entrepreneurship that will create future leaders in the high tech industry.
The Lassonde New Venture Development Center's aim is not only to ensure university technologies for education, but also to use the educational process to add value to a potential high-tech company. The transition from breakthrough invention to a marketable product and start-up company is a leap of faith, often requiring a large investment of both time and money from the inventor. The New Venture Development Center works to narrow that gap and decrease risk for the entrepreneur. The services we offer for technologies that pass preliminary evaluation criteria include:
- Finding and evaluating market applications for the product(s)
- Extensive research into the size, growth, and direction of potential markets
- Developing competitor profiles and market penetration strategy
- Evaluating and developing business models
- Consulting on funding strategies
In order for the New Venture Development Center to provide the highest quality of work, it is expected that the participating researcher will help students gain a general understanding of the technical aspects of their product and help in mentoring for specific projects. A confidentiality policy has been developed with legal counsel to ensure the protection of the intellectual property interests of the inventor.
The Lassonde Center was founded by Pierre Lassonde, a University of Utah alumnus who is considered to be one of Canada's most incisive gold analysts and investors. Lassonde is also the president and the COO of Newmont Mining, the largest mining company in the world.
Lassonde's wife, Claudette MacKay-Lassonde, served as Chairman and CEO of Enghous Systems, a global telecommunications and utility software provider from 1994 until her death in June of 2000. After she passed away, Pierre wanted to do something in honor of her memory.
Lassonde and his wife both attended the University of Utah but in many ways they were opposites. Claudette earned her Master’s in Nuclear Engineering, while Pierre earned his MBA. The different areas of expertise they brought to their relationship made them a formidable couple. They often joked that a marriage between the two colleges at the University could also create a powerful force. After Claudette's death, Pierre decided to turn the joke into a reality by creating the Lassonde new Venture Development Center: a place where business and engineering students work together to turn ideas into marketable products.