March 22, 2001 Vol . 20, No. 6

New Ventures offers $125,000 in prize money

By Diane Luckow

Have a good technology business idea? Want to be a technology entrepreneur? You'll have a better chance to realize those dreams thanks to a new, annual business plan competition initiated by SFU Business.

The recently announced New Ventures B.C. Competition is believed to be the largest of its kind in North America, combining a unique mix of business information, education and $125,000 in prize money.

The four-round competition will see as many as 100 individuals with the best business start-up ideas vying to make it into the fourth round and a grand prize package worth $50,000. Along the way, contestants will attend business education seminars and have access to expert mentors. Finalists and second place winners will also receive prize money.

Wal von Leirop (right), vice-president, strategic planning at Westcoast Energy and an adjunct professor in the SFU faculty of business, came up with the idea for the competition as a means of increasing technology start-ups in B.C. and creating a more entrepreneurial environment.

He approached John Waterhouse, then dean of SFU Business, to help him bring the idea to fruition. Together, they acquired partners in business and government, founding the B.C. Venture Society, whose chair, Don Calder and vice-chair Robert Wilband, are both former SFU Business executives-in-residence.

Directors include Ernie Love (left), dean pro tem for the faculty and von Leirop.

Margaret Vandenberg, associate director of development for the faculty, was charged with raising funding for the initiative.

Inaugural sponsors for the competition include grand prize sponsor Bank of Montreal, Palmer Jarvis DDB, TAP Ventures Inc., Caldwell Partners and Campney & Murphy. All have agreed to a three-year commitment to provide prize packages and support.

"SFU's vision, in advancing the competition, is to build continuing partnership and support between businesses, academia and government that will firmly establish B.C. as the place where new technologies succeed in the market place," says Love. "It took 2,800 years for the steam prototype of Hero the Greek to take serious market share away from the horse, and we want NVBC to shorten this time to market."

The competition is open to B.C. entrepreneurs with an idea for a new product or service that involves new technology. To register, log on to by April 7.

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