A new type of MBA scholarship will offer students half the amount of grant money in seed-funding to help them launch start-up ventures.
The New Venture Scholarship offered by Canada’s Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia is valued at $15,000, providing entrepreneurs with $7,500 to finance the development of new companies. The school will take no equity.
The Vancouver-based business school plans to offer 10 scholarships to MBA candidates who opt for the Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IE) track. The track is designed for entrepreneurs who want to kick-start new ventures – or for “intrapreneurs” who want to build innovation within an existing company.
“Our program has always placed importance on entrepreneurship and innovation, and we have a tradition of successful businesses being founded by MBAs, even before they graduate,” said Laura Rojo, director of recruitment and admissions.
Entrepreneurship has been gaining ground at business schools but Laura sees Vancouver in particular as a start-up hub. “Our west coast home ties us into a powerful entrepreneurial hub, and the ecosystem of support for new businesses is very attractive,” she said, adding that the school is connected to several local incubators.
But it is difficult for entrepreneurs to raise funding – even if there has been an increase in the availability of venture capital in Canada. “It can be quite challenging,” Laura said, adding that the school plays a role in helping students polish pitches and approach investors: “Sometimes the first investors are the hardest ones to find. Our MBAs build bridges to the entrepreneurial community. This way they are not starting from zero.”
She said: “Around half [the students] going into the track have clear goals. They have an idea already and want to develop a business plan during the MBA and launch a venture after graduation.”
Between 11% and 15% of Sauder’s MBA class opt for the IE track. “People have realized that management goes well beyond finance… It’s all encompassing,” Laura said. “There has been a better understanding of what an MBA is and the diverse opportunities it affords for career growth.”
But entrepreneurship is gaining global appeal at business schools across the world. “We are leading that trend,” added Laura.
The scholarship will be available for the September 2015 intake.