Entrepreneurship competition pays dividends for BC economy: Beedie study

Mar 04, 2013


A new study by the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University makes the case for mentored entrepreneurial competition as a means to contributing to the British Columbia economy. The research report, entitled “New Ventures BC Economic Impact and Entrepreneurial Research Impact”, was co-authored by Beedie Professors Elicia Maine and Pek-Hooi Soh, and Beedie MBA alumnus Lee O’Donnell.

To date, more than 1,400 aspiring B.C. entrepreneurs have entered the competition, with 36 winning major prize packages. Most winners have continued on to form viable companies and to create jobs for British Columbians. The prizes issued by NVBC are intended to grow the most promising early-stage ideas into successful companies. Most importantly, new technology entrepreneurs are created through the educational, mentoring, and entrepreneurship bootcamp stages of the competition: these budding entrepreneurs are expected to facilitate innovation in the province for decades to come.

“This study shows that NVBC makes a strong contribution to the BC regional system of innovation,” said Maine. “Past participants have strongly endorsed the NVBC competition, and NVBC is found to have had a substantive economic impact.”

During the first phase of the economic impact research study, the research team created an enhanced company database of 295 companies that proceeded to the third round of the competition from 2001 to 2011. Of those companies, 56 percent of them are still viable in some form – responsible for an estimated 3,170 jobs, 854 patents, $194 million in revenue and 1294 unique product offerings. A phase two of the study involved both quantitative and qualitative follow-up with third round participants. The qualitative feedback demonstrated the value of the mentoring portion of the entrepreneurship competition, and provided feedback to improve the competition for future years.  85% of respondents indicated that they had significantly benefited from the competition and would highly recommend the NVBC competition to other entrepreneurs.

More than 1,100 aspiring B.C. entrepreneurs have entered the competition since its inception. These include the likes of 2008 winner Saltworks Technologies – founded by two SFU Management of Technology MBA graduates, Ben Sparrow and Joshua Zoshi. Saltworks is delivering to the desalination industry a revolutionary, affordable and energy-efficient method for producing fresh water. According to Zoshi, the New Ventures BC competition forced the duo to think about crystallizing their business plan to accompany their breakthrough technology – an idea that The Economist magazine has referred to as “an ingenious way of using the heat of the sun to drive the (desalination) process.”

Other past participants from the Beedie School of Business have included Hiretheworld.com (NVBC winner, 2010), founded by BBA alumnus and instructor Terry Beech; and Layerboom, founded by EMBA student Howie Wu. SFU Engineering Science students Vincent Yen, Frederick Ghahramani & Bryce Pasechnik, winners of the inaugural NVBC competition in 2001, have grown their venture AirG — headquartered in Vancouver — into the world’s leading mobile social entertainment provider, with more than 55 million unique users in 40 countries.

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