How do you improve one of the top three business plan competitions in North America? For the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business, the answer entails pursuing an aggressive strategy to reposition its hallmark New Venture Championship (NVC) as the premier international business plan competition with a focus on the Asia Pacific. And this year's event in Portland, Oregon, April 12-14, has made progress toward that goal.
More than double the number of student teams from East Asian colleges and universities applied to participate in NVC this year, and five of the twenty teams selected to compete hail from the region. "This is the first year we've implemented a focused East Asia strategy, and I am encouraged with the response," said Randy Swangard, managing director of the Lundquist Center. "It's an important first step in our goal of having half of NVC venture teams come from such countries as China, Korea, Japan, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan by 2010."
The strategic repositioning of NVC, Swangard noted, is related to the college's Engaging China initiative, and the Lundquist Center hopes to leverage NVC to build strategic alliances with top East Asian universities. "We want to be the go-to place for innovation and entrepreneurship related to East Asia," explained Swangard. "That includes helping companies understand the entrepreneurial environment and opportunities available in the region and attracting top students who aspire to develop business acumen with a focus on East Asia."
As part of the college's Engaging China initiative, the Lundquist Center and the Sustainable Supply Chain Management Center are also partnering with the UO Center for Asian and Pacific Studies to expose M.B.A. students to the social context of East Asia through a U.S. Department of Education grant. Students will complete coursework this spring introducing them to Chinese culture, language, history, and business practices. They will then travel to Beijing and Shanghai in September 2007 for a study tour, meeting with top industry and government leaders.
"Ultimately, we are trying to develop more employable, more highly skilled, and more globally oriented graduates," said Swangard. And the repositioning of NVC as a top Asia Pacific business plan competition will help further this goal by enhancing connections to East Asia that will yield more research/collaboration opportunities for faculty and more networking, educational, and career prospects for students.