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Will Simon Fraser launch the next big idea?

The Globe's weekly Business School news roundup

How do you nurture a new generation of high-tech entrepreneurs? Start early.

That's one strategy now in vogue at several Canadian universities – Waterloo's Velocity student incubator and Ryerson's Digital Media Zone among them – which have created on-campus settings for students across disciplines to dream up the next big venture and take it to market.

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Now add Simon Fraser University to the list. Its Beedie School of Business already offers a specialization in entrepreneurship to undergraduates, but yesterday announced entrepreneurship@SFU as a way to offer them real-life experience at starting a new business.

Starting this fall on a pilot basis, the school of business and the Faculty of Applied Science will team up to offer selected third- and fourth-year business and engineering students an opportunity to work with each other across their disciplines to develop an innovative idea, with support from professor and industry mentors.

Funding for the SFU initiative comes in part from Ken Spencer, a prominent British Columbia entrepreneur who co-founded a two-person technology start-up that grew to 4,500 employees in four countries before selling it to Kodak in 2005. Mr. Spencer and the B.C. Innovation Council are each putting up $210,000 to create a student incubator at the university's Surrey campus.

The university expects to accept 20-25 students a year into the incubator program. They will be expected to produce a business plan, design and develop prototypes, complete the steps to start a successful business and line up a customer.

Business and engineering students will work together in for-credit classes but also will be given time outside class to identify potential student partners to collaborate on a new product or service. As well, students will have access to a new product design studio, equipped with advanced design software, a rapid prototyping machine and other equipment to help bring an idea to market.

As a condition of graduation, students have to start up their product or company and find a customer. About six new student-developed products or companies are expected to reach market each year.

Interim dean named at Alberta

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Across Canada, half-a-dozen universities are on the hunt for business school deans.

In a measure of the time it takes to find the desired candidate, the University of Alberta has again named an interim dean of business.

Prof. Joseph Doucet, the new Stanley A. Milner Chair in Leadership, was appointed as interim dean earlier this month for a two and a half year term. He succeeds Tom Scott, the vice-dean appointed last June on an interim basis after Mike Percy stepped down from the post after 14 years.

Prof. Doucet, who joined the school in 2000, is a frequent commentator on energy and regulatory economics. Last December, he was named to a provincial government panel to review the need for two high-voltage transmission lines between Edmonton and Calgary.

Despite his interim status, Prof. Doucet says he has no plans to tread water.

"While it is a limited term position, I don't view my responsibilities and any planning or leadership as interim in any way," he said in a telephone interview. "I am planning and taking action with a long term view."

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During his stint, he plans to focus his efforts in two key areas: recruitment and retention of faculty talent and relations with stakeholders, especially alumni. He views them as potential spokesmen for the school, employers, talent spotters for prospective students and, of course, donors.

In the meantime, the university will undertake another search for a permanent dean, with a selection expected by 2014.

Winners of Jeux de Commerce and Molson competitions

For a second time in the 23-year history of the Jeux de Commerce, students from the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa finished first over-all in the competition.

Held at l'Université Laval earlier this month, the annual event brings together more than 1,200 students from thirteen universities in eastern Canada who compete in academic, sporting and social activities.

The 94-student Telfer delegation brought home 10 trophies, including the Academic Cup won by the school for the 5th year in a row, according to a press release from the university.

Meanwhile, students from l'Université Laval and the University of Calgary placed first and third, respectively, in the 31st annual John Molson MBA international case competition held in Montreal last week. The contest, run by Concordia's business-school students, attracted 36 business schools from 12 countries.

Responsible leaders centre gets cash infusion

A $500,000 donation from Suncor Energy Foundation to the Centre for Responsible Leadership at Queen's School of Business will be used to expand programming in aboriginal education, community development, environmental sustainability and support for volunteerism over the next five years.

"This funding will support our ongoing development of responsible corporate and community leaders through programs that have a positive impact on society," said Prof. Tina Dacin, director of the centre, in a press release this week.

The centre was established to develop the next generation of socially responsible leaders through education, research, outreach and advocacy.

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