For concreteness, I will work in the category of smooth manifolds, but my question makes sense in topological and PL category as well. Recall that a manifold $M$ is called *open* if every connected component of $M$ is non-compact.

Question. Is it true that for every $n$ there exists a compact $n$-dimensional manifold $N^n$ so that every open $n$-dimensional manifold $M^n$ admits an immersion in $N^n$? (In this context an immersion is just a local diffeomorphism.)

I think that the answer is positive and that the manifolds $N$ are connected sums of products of projective spaces of various dimensions.

Edit: Igor noted that real-projective spaces are not enough, one should include complex-projective spaces as factors in the products. (The reason I think that products real and complex projective spaces are the right thing to use is that real and complex projective spaces generate rings of unoriented and oriented cobordisms.)

Some background: As we know very well, not every manifold admits an open *embedding* in a compact manifold. For instance, the infinite connected sum of 2-dimensional tori does not. However, it is easy to prove that every open surface admits an immersion in ${\mathbb R}P^2$. Whitehead proved that every open oriented 3-dimensional manifold admits an immersion in ${\mathbb R}^3$ (and, hence, to any 3-dimensional manifold). I also convinced myself (although I do not have a complete proof) that every open non-orinentable 3-manifold admits an immersion in ${\mathbb R}P^2\times S^1$. More generally, every open paralelizable $n$-manifold admits an immersion in ${\mathbb R}^n$. This is a special case of the Hirsch-Smale immersion theory, which reduces existence of immersion from an open manifold to a homotopy-theoretic question about maps of tangent bundles.

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