If you go

What: Spark Boulder grand opening

When: 6 p.m. Feb. 21

Where: 1310 College Ave., Suite 100, Boulder

Cost: Free

More info: sparkboulder.com

There are places all around the University of Colorado for like-minded students to get together and work on specific projects, but nowhere for budding entrepreneurs to collaborate.

That changes later this month, when Spark Boulder opens as a new co-working space for CU students and community members.

"When students want to be in a play, they all gather in a theater," said Spark Boulder co-founder Ben Buie. "You know the other students at the theater want to do the same things and learn the same things. There are spaces like that all over campus for engineering students, for every type of student, but there was no space for students who want to start a business. There's not a place anywhere else like this."

Spark Boulder officially opens Feb. 21 on University Hill. The 5,400-square-foot building, at 1310 College Ave., has a mostly open floor plan with desks scattered throughout, modeled after other co-working spaces in Boulder and elsewhere. The space, open 24 hours, also contains several conference rooms and offices with phone and video capabilities.

Monthly memberships for students and community members range from $20 to $300 for varying levels of access, permanency and services.

Buie, who earned his MBA from CU in 2013, and co-founders Bill Shrum and Fletcher Richman formed the space as a nonprofit and then raised roughly $140,000 from community partners to renovate the inside of the building and pay for projection equipment, printers and other technologies.

Buie said he hopes students who use the space will set out to change some part of the world through a startup, business idea or venture.

"We're mostly focused on people who want to innovate something, who want to change something for the better through commerce," he said. "Not necessarily change something politically, or something like that, but mostly through new ventures trying to change the world. Social entrepreneurship, clean energy, innovation in general."

That type of innovation only happens when the dividers between students come down, Buie said, and business students can freely share ideas with physics or English majors.

"Real innovation comes when we break down those walls of the silos of education and bring all types of students together to form companies," Buie said.

Every Friday, Spark Boulder will host free days and speed-networking events so that students can find potential mentors, and community members can find potential new employees, interns or collaborators, Richman said.

Spark Boulder will also set up an initial meeting between student members and a community mentor, with the hopes that the mentorship will continue and lead to internships or other opportunities for the student members, Richman said.

Even for students who don't want to start their own business, the co-working space can still provide valuable professional skills, networking opportunities and an "entrepreneurial mindset," which can be applied to any field, Richman said.

Richman has worked for more than a year at a startup in Boulder while studying electrical engineering at CU. He said he's seen firsthand what some people call "the Boulder Creek divide" between Boulder community members and businesses and CU students.

He hopes the Spark Boulder space gives the two sides a reason and a physical location to come together.

"I see (Spark Boulder) as being a bridge," he said. "We're figuratively creating a bridge but we're literally creating a physical bridge between the two communities."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Sarah Kuta at kutas@dailycamera.com.