Sobey School of Business

New Saint Mary's space at Volta innovation hub

A new partnership between Saint Mary's University and Volta, an innovation hub in downtown Halifax, will see the university become the first post-secondary institution to provide its students and faculty direct access to Volta's community of innovators with a dedicated work space onsite.

Saint Mary’s will have a permanent office space at Volta, dubbed the Entrepreneurship Connector, that can house up to 6 people. The space allows SMU's community to build stronger relationships within Halifax's innovation district, while providing access to resources, help create new experiential learning opportunities, and enable Saint Mary’s faculty, researchers and programs to better reach and engage with the community and local businesses.

Volta, now in its sixth year of operation, tripled in size last year to 60,000 square feet. Spanning across three floors of the Maritime Centre, the innovation hub is creating a place for entrepreneurs and innovators to work, learn and connect with each other.

"Universities play an important role in driving innovation in Atlantic Canada, and they help attract the talent the region needs to thrive," said Jesse Rodgers, Volta's CEO. "This partnership will infuse Volta's community with the creativity, enthusiasm and innovative thinking that SMU students exemplify."

“We are passionate about helping our students, and our region succeed,” said Dr. Rob Summerby-Murray, President and Vice-Chancellor. “We know that it is by working together, with like-minded partners, that we will have the most impact and do the most good…where we will drive innovation and entrepreneurial thinking to the benefit of our province, and far beyond.”

“Saint Mary’s University is excited to have a permanent physical space at Volta,” said Michael Sanderson, Director of the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre. “At SMU, we believe entrepreneurship is for everyone, so this space and partnership creates a direct pathway for students, faculty and staff from across all disciplines within the university to engage in entrepreneurship and help grow and support the start-up ecosystem.”

See also:

Dr. Ellen Farrell releases research findings on Atlantic entrepreneurial ecosystem


Dr. Ellen Farrell releases research findings on Atlantic entrepreneurial ecosystem

Dr. Ellen Farrell

Dr. Ellen Farrell

Global relationships key to healthy startup community says new research

A major research project from Saint Mary’s University suggests Atlantic Canadian startup businesses need to look further afield for innovation, information and funding.

A three-year, $210,000 research project exploring the startup community in Atlantic Canada has delivered its final report. The research shows that while the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is highly interconnected, companies can achieve greater benefit by reaching out globally for information on technology and product solutions. By relying more on “weak ties” or relationships outside of the Atlantic region or Canada, the Atlantic entrepreneurial ecosystem can improve innovation and results. The research also suggests firms explore venture capital availability outside of the Atlantic region.

“Our study looked at the “knowledge-seeking behaviours” of startups. We found that the Atlantic region is highly connected. One great opportunity lies in encouraging startups to extend their global reach for product and technology information, taking advantage of “weak ties” such as acquaintances, because this can help develop new innovations,” said Dr. Ellen Farrell. “As it is, the world is beating a path to our door to purchase our Atlantic Canadian equity,” she says, citing examples like the purchase of Atlantic businesses Radian 6 and Go Instant by Salesforce, and Quintiles IMS’s recent acquisition of STI Technologies.

The report points to more work to be done by mature firms to support growing businesses. A call to action in the report offers a long list of suggestions for ways these firms can support startups, including testing prototypes, lending talent or equipment, and providing an entry introduction into an industry network of contacts.

“Saint Mary’s University is dedicated to fostering both the foundational and community-engaged research efforts of our professors. This project of Dr. Farrell and her team is an excellent example of research that supports our community and directly impacts the health of our region’s economy,” says Saint Mary’s University Associate Vice-President Research, Dr. Adam Sarty.

“This applied research has already helped inform start-up founders, policy makers and other members of the ecosystem it describes. Dr. Farrell’s work complements her teaching in entrepreneurship, and is key in building a culture of innovation with an entrepreneurial approach to both business development and general problem solving.”

A team led by Dr. Ellen Farrell, a management professor at the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University, conducted the research, which was based on a study Dr. Farrell undertook in 2014. The team was comprised of eleven researchers plus graduate and undergraduate students from six universities across the region. Federal funding to support the project came from ACOA’s Atlantic Policy Research Initiative.

Research into the effects of low interest rates on Canadian loan markets receives grant

Dr. Mohammad Rahaman, Canada Research Chair in International Finance & Competitiveness and a professor with the Sobey School of Business

Dr. Mohammad Rahaman, Canada Research Chair in International Finance & Competitiveness and a professor with the Sobey School of Business

The work of a Saint Mary’s University researcher into the effects of low interest rates on the syndicated loan market in North American has received a boost.

Mohammad Rahaman, Canada Research Chair in International Finance & Competitiveness and a professor with the Sobey School of Business, is receiving a $40,000 research grant from the Canadian Securities Institute Research Foundation.

Rahaman’s research focuses primarily on understanding how access to intermediated capital such as bank loans can be a source of power and efficiency for industrial firms in a competitive global market place. He is currently investigating the effects of the unprecedented and prolonged low interest rates by central banks following the global financial crisis.

His research also touches on how financing through syndicated loans influences investment, innovation, and internationalization among North American industrial firms. A syndicated loan is a loan provided by a group of lenders and set up and administered by one or more commercial or investment banks.

“This is one of the most coveted research grant awarded by industry practitioners in Finance in Canada, and I am honoured to be its recipient,” said Rahaman. “No other finance faculty member in the Maritimes has received this grant, which speaks to a recognition of the importance that the Sobey School of Business has in our region and the quality of research underway at the school.”

The Canadian Securities Institute Research Foundation encourages and supports grounded research on the Canadian Capital Markets.

“The Canadian Securities Research Foundation is actively supporting research into interest rate risk, especially the drivers and impact of the current low interest rate environment,” said Heather-Anne Irwin, Executive Director of the Foundation. “We are thrilled to be supporting Professor Rahaman in his work, as we strive to bridge the gap between theory and practice.”

Student entrepreneurs from across Atlantic Canada at Saint Mary’s for business development conference

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Student entrepreneurs from across Atlantic Canada will be working closely with experienced entrepreneurs to help develop their businesses at the Starting Point Entrepreneurship Conference taking place at Saint Mary’s University.

The conference begins on Tuesday, Feb. 19, and will bring student entrepreneurs from post-secondary institutions and high schools from multiple provinces together to work with entrepreneurs, CEOs and startup experts. The students have the chance to work directly with the entrepreneurs to help brings their business ideas to fruition or grow an existing business. Events include keynote speakers, master classes with successful businesspeople, funder speed dating and the Iron Entrepreneur Tournament.  At the end of the conference, students have a chance to win cash investments for their businesses.

This year’s conference theme is “From Vision to Venture.” The theme is about encouraging and inspiring students to bring their ideas to reality by giving them the confidence and tools to do so. Conference proceedings such as master classes, the iron entrepreneur competition and the keynote speaker will focus on helping students to realize that vision and help them to bring it to fruition through actionable advice and inspiration.

Since it began in 2015, the conference has hosted 590 student entrepreneurs from post-secondary institutions and high schools from across the country and given over $40,000 in funding and prizes. The conference is organized by the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre. Over the past five years, SMUEC programs have provided opportunities to more than 4,500 students, allowing them to be engaged in curricular and extra-curricular activities. 

To learn more about the Starting Point Conference visit www.startingpointconference.com.

Two years in a row of podium finishes for Saint Mary's venture capital students

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For the second year in a row, a team of students from the Sobey School of Business took second place in the Venture Capital Investment Competition (New England region), held in Boston.

In early February, the Saint Mary’s students joined teams from Cornell University, Babson College, New York University, Tufts University and Southern Connecticut State University to show their venture capital expertise.

The way the competition works is that two days before the event, teams receive pitch decks from startup companies. The teams are given 38 hours to learn as much as they can about the presenting startups. Then they arrive at the competition, and it begins with the startup pitches. Teams receive 14 minutes of one-on-one time with each startup. Finally, teams have two hours to make an investment decision and submit their recommendations.

Cornell University, narrowly edged Saint Mary’s to take first place. In addition to finishing second place, Saint Mary’s Venture Grade took home the competition's only Entrepreneurs Choice Award, chosen by the startup entrepreneurs.

“The spread between 1st  and 2nd  place was 1.6%,” said Dr. Ellen Farrell, the faculty coach of the Saint Mary’s University Venture Grade Fund. “In the Boston event, there was an entrepreneur looking for $11,000,000 but who wasn’t committed to exiting so the team didn’t feel he met the fund thesis; and another father/son co-founding group offering a new type of incuabator to 3rd world countries that had yet to commercialize.  In picking Language I/0, SMU met the entrepreneur’s elevated valuation expectations with term sheet provisions.  There was a buzz in the room about the team’s defence when they were done.  Brilliant job.”

Competing in the competition were Kory Henn (Entrepreneurship), Emma Scott (Entrepreneurship), Jake Chambers (Entrepreneurship), Maxim Roy (Accounting) and Tahsin Fatin (Finance).

Congratulations on your great showing!

Saint Mary’s University to participate in Halifax and eBay partnership on retail program

Saint Mary’s University and The David Sobey Centre for Innovation in Retailing and Services are proud to be a part of a new partnership between eBay Canada and the Halifax Regional Municipality. The partnership is for Retail Revival, an eBay program designed to help small and medium-sized retailers harness the power of e-commerce and global trade.

Retail Revival is a free 12-month training, support and educational program that empowers 60 – 70 local small and medium-sized retailers to thrive by leveraging eBay's global marketplace to reach new customers around the world. The program will also include a dedicated customer service support team, digital tools and subscriptions, promotional marketing from eBay, as well as additional education and resources from participating partners focused on small business and exporting.  

The David Sobey Centre for Innovation in Retailing and Services will participate in the eBay Retail Revival program in Halifax as a research partner.  Dr. Ramesh Venkat, Director of the David Sobey Centre, along with Dr. Rahman Khokhar and Dr. Mark Raymond will form a research team to study the performance of the companies participating in the program as well as the overall economic impact on this region.

“This partnership represents a great opportunity for both our region and university,” said Saint Mary’s University president Robert Summerby-Murray. “It is a recognition of the important role that we play as a national leader in business education, entrepreneurship and retail across Canada. We look forward to bringing the expertise of our business faculty and the David Sobey Centre to this partnership.”

This program is a partnership between eBay Canada and the Halifax Regional Municipality. It is supported by the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia. As part of the program, eBay is partnering with Halifax Partnership, Nova Scotia Business Inc., and Saint Mary’s University.

Photo credits: Stoo Metz, Click Productions.

Sobey School of Business MBA ranks #8 in the world for sustainability

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The Sobey School of Business is eighth in the world for sustainability, according to the recently released Corporate Knights Better World MBA ranking.

The eight place finish marks the highest ranking yet for the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University. The school attributes its success to the way sustainable development and ethics are deeply embedded in its courses, the strong ethnic and gender diversity of its student and faculty, and the faculty’s extensive research on sustainability themes. Corporate Knights assessed 141 business schools across 25 countries for its rankings.

“Placed as we are here on the east coast of Canada, the impacts of climate change are strongly felt. At the same time, our province is a leader in immigration, and has a deep history in co-operative and alternate business models. We understand how important sustainability must be in business today,” noted Dean Harjeet Bhabra. “We are proud of our faculty’s strengths in international research and ethics, and the growing expertise in social enterprise development at Saint Mary’s, which have helped us achieve this recognition.”

The Sobey MBA program ranked second in Canada, with Schulich, at York University, placing first nationally. Warwick University in Exeter, UK, was ranked first in the world
Corporate Knights introduced two new metrics to this year’s ranking: the gender and racial diversity of graduate business department faculty. Such diversity can influence student perception of what leadership looks like, and means that business schools can model meaningful standards for more diverse corporate boards and management.

According to Corporate Knights, The University of Connecticut's School of Business and the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax led the way on racial diversity with 51 percent of faculty identified as visible minorities.

Participating schools were graded on five indicators: the number of institutes and centres dedicated to sustainable development; the percentage of core courses that integrate sustainable development; faculty research publications and citations on sustainable development themes; and faculty gender and racial diversity.

In 2014, the Sobey school’s faculty unanimously voted to become signatories to the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Management Education initiative (PRME). A central part of this commitment is a pledge to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

For Saint Mary’s and the Sobey School, the ranking was helped by research and work conducted through the school’s centres: the Atlantic Research Group on Economics of Immigration, Aging and Diversity, the new International Centre for Co-operative Management, the Centre for Leadership Excellence, the David Sobey Centre for Innovation in Retailing and Services, and the Centre of Excellence in Accounting and Reporting for Co-operatives.

See Corporate Knights' full top 40 here.