Business plan competitions in an academic setting

KARL MAACK, TOBIAS THORNBLAD, ADIL ABOUZEEDAN AND THOMAS HEDNER, UNIVERSITY OF GOTEBORG, SWEDEN

Abstract: The concept of business plan competitions (BPC) to promote entrepreneurship and venture creation originates from the early 1980’s. Generally, the BPC concept was developed in innovative and entrepreneurial academic cluster environments in the US, from where it spread globally, primarily to Canada, Europe and Australia. Generally, the development of BPCs has been seen in expanding entrepreneurial and venture creation cluster initiatives in cooperation with regional universities. From the current global BPC overview, we demonstrate that BPCs differ in terms of focus, which may be towards high-tech, biotech, health, IT or socially oriented focus. Some competitions are focused only on ventures with a product development while other BPCs have a focus on service-oriented businesses. There is also a difference in reach, where some BPCs have a global outlook, while others have a local focus. The BPCs analyzed also differ in terms of involvement, where some competitions have an academic connection through a major university or business school and they are often non-profit driven by society and/or students. The pedagogic approach differs where some BPCs only have a focus on the written plan where others have mentoring, coaching, and training in presenting business ideas orally as a part of their concept. In the present paper, we present an overview of the major BPCs globally, with examples from each continent, that is Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America. We have focused on BPCs with an academic curriculum and mapped the most visible BPCs in the respective continents. An additional focus was to present a conceptual overview of the BPC concept and venture creation initiatives and small business start-up. The global spread and success of the BPC phenomenon can be described and understood in terms of knowledge diffusion theory and business cluster ecosystems connected to venture creation. The concept also builds on a competitive element which attracts diverse innovative and entrepreneurial talents to create new combinations of business solutions in diverse fields if business development.
Keywords: Business Plan competitions, global review, entrepreneurship, innovation, regional development, and empowerment.

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