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A new lecture theatre in the Jim Pattison Leadership Centre at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business.Acton Ostry Architects

The Globe's weekly Business School news roundup.

British Columbia is home to a breed of progressive entrepreneurs who use for-profit business models to solve social or environmental problems.

In a move to encourage more ventures by these innovators, Canada's second-largest credit union has donated $1-million over five years to the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business for an "innovation hub."

With the funding from Coast Capital Savings Credit Union, and led by Sauder's ISIS Research Centre, the accelerator initiative will provide early-stage ventures with working space, mentoring by business faculty and industry and internship support from Sauder students.

"There are lots of great people with great ideas and those ideas stall at the first stage because they don't have the funding and don't have the management system in place," says James Tansey, director of ISIS Research Centre, which got off the ground in 2009 as a link between the business school and social innovators. "We have a great pool of ventures to draw from out here," he adds. "We want to see more of them making it through."

Starting in January, between five and eight enterprises will receive mentoring for eight to 10 months. Prof. Tansey hopes that Sauder students, in their role as interns, will benefit, too, as they learn to apply what they are studying in class to a real-life enterprise.

By nurturing enterprises at their earliest stages, says Prof. Tansey, "We hope to prime the pump" for new ventures that will attract funding from investors and philanthropists.

"We want to put Vancouver on the map in the way that San Francisco is on the map for Silicon Valley," he says. "We have an amazing community of innovators out here."

Online degree

Jonathan Nightingale received his bachelor of commerce in one year from Nipissing University in 2010 without ever setting foot on the North Bay, Ont., campus. The first time the Mississauga, Ont., resident met his business professors was at a graduation ceremony that fall in Kitchener-Waterloo.

He earned his business degree through a university-college partnership aimed at college graduates and working professionals. The arrangement between Nipissing and six Ontario colleges provides an alternative route to professional credentials for those who don't have the option to attend a conventional daytime business program.

This fall, with about 450 college students enrolled over the past three years, Nipissing added Scarborough's Centennial College to its roster.

Under the arrangement, graduates with a three-year business diploma and a minimum average of 72 per cent can apply to Nipissing, which counts the college program for up to half of the 90 credits required for a bachelor of commerce university degree. Over a 12-month period, students study online with their Nipissing professors with an option to show up at their former college for in-class tutorials with Nipissing-hired instructors.

The price-tag of $10,235 is well below the cost of a traditional, on-campus business degree and can be completed in a shorter period of time.

In 2009, when Mr. Nightingale decided to go back to school to advance his career prospects, he was a senior business analyst with Maple Leaf Foods and going to school full-time was not an option. Instead, he pursued his Nipissing degree online and attended evening and weekend classes at Sheridan College, where he had earned his college diploma. Conveniently, the college campus is 10 minutes from his home.

As a working professional, Mr. Nightingale appreciated the convenience and flexibility of the Nipissing degree but he makes no bones about the intense studying required over 12 months. "It kept me really busy," he says.

Rick Vanderlee, dean of Faculty of Applied & Professional Studies at Nipissing's Muskoka campus, is one of the architects of the university-college partnership. The idea grew out of Nipissing research that showed many college students transferred to Nipissing but failed to complete their degree.

"A lot of them wanted to stay home and do it in a shorter time," he says. Given its northern location, Nipissing decided to team up with colleges in student-rich markets in Toronto and other urban centres.

In 2009-10, the first year of the college partnership program, Nipissing reported a 95-per-cent graduation rate, compared with only 41 per cent the previous year when students travelled to North Bay. Mr. Vanderlee says graduates report an almost 100-per-cent success rate in landing jobs after their degree.

Michael Vourakes, dean of Centennial's school of business, says the relationship with Nipissing gives his college graduates, many of them from overseas and in search of a university credential, a clear path to earn a degree. "A university and a college coming together is great," he says.

The experience of online learning later paid dividends for Mr. Nightingale, when he joined SAP Canada as a senior business process consultant this year. While he works face-to-face with clients, he communicates at a distance with SAP managers based overseas.

Dalhousie renames B-school in honour of Kenneth Rowe

Dalhousie University's School of Business has been named after Kenneth Rowe, a business leader in Nova Scotia and a long-time supporter of business education at the Halifax-based institution.

At an event in Halifax today, university officials unveiled the logo for the Rowe School of Business in honour of Mr. Rowe, the executive chairman of IMP Group.

In various capacities, Mr. Rowe has been an influential figure in promoting business education at Dalhousie for the past 20 years. In a press release, Dalhousie University president Tom Traves credited Mr. Rowe for his efforts in the 1990s to persuade university officials about the merits of expanding business education activities. Last year, Mr. Rowe donated $15-million to boost the academic profile of the school of business and prior to that led a successful fundraising campaign for a building to house the faculty of management's four schools. He is a long-time member of the faculty of management advisory board.

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