Globe and Mail: Entrepreneurs fuel school’s startup agenda

Jun 28, 2016
Beedie School of Business alumnus Charles Chang, founder of plant-based nutrition company Vega.

Beedie School of Business alumnus Charles Chang, founder of plant-based nutrition company Vega.

The following is an excerpt from an article published by the Globe and Mail in the Business Education section on June 23.

By Jennifer Lewington. 

Two alumni of the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., are proving to be valuable allies in ambitious plans by the school – and the university – to expand their footprint in entrepreneurship education.

Charles Chang, a Beedie bachelor of business administration graduate who has founded two companies, this month pledged $10-million for a new entrepreneurship institute at the school.

A flagship project of the institute will be expansion of an existing certificate in innovation and entrepreneurship, an interdisciplinary program offered to any undergraduates regardless of their discipline. In future, up to 25 students in the annual cohort (currently 90 students but expected to grow to several hundred over time) will receive financial support and mentoring to help them “move their idea to the next level,” says Beedie dean Ali Dastmalchian.

Mr. Chang’s donation, the second largest in the history of the school, “will help strengthen our position so we can do a better job of offering the certificate and providing other activities,” the dean says.

In an earlier announcement, the school named Andrew Harries, a Beedie MBA graduate, as the school’s inaugural Tom Foord Professor of Practice in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Funding for the position (matched by the Beedie family endowment to the school) comes from another SFU alumni, Robert Foord, president of B.C.-based Kal Tire, in honour of his late father, Tom, who established the company in 1953.

Mr. Harries, a Vancouver-based serial entrepreneur, will hold the professorship initially for a three-year term, teaching undergraduate and graduate students as well as advising the school on curriculum development that includes experiential learning outside the classroom.

“Entrepreneurship and innovation management skills are hard to come by if all your experience is with small companies or you are coming straight out of school,” says Mr. Harries. “Therefore we really need to teach it.”

Currently a business adviser and corporate director, Mr. Harries was a founder of Sierra Wireless Inc. and served in various roles as the company grew to more than $200-million in revenue. He is also a past chairman and former long-time member of the advisory board to the dean at Beedie.

Dr. Dastmalchian says Mr. Harries “is already in the classroom, students are delighted and he is making connections between us and the tech community.”

Well aware other schools are rushing to add entrepreneurial and innovation education to their résumés, Dr. Dastmalchian has high hopes that Beedie will make its mark. “We want to be known as one of the Canadian business schools that is really big on this issue of innovation.”

Read the full article on the Globe and Mail website.

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