Most startups are inherently risky, which is why ventures have such a hard time taking off. But what if you could look at them through the eyes of an investor, see beyond their risk and identify the real opportunities? MBA candidates Joanna Nickerson and Elliot Thompson are working with entrepreneur, Melani Flanagan, co-founder of Kinderguardian, in a new course that teaches students to assess risk from the perspective of venture capitalists like the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation.

UNB Fredericton’s faculty of business administration students are learning to do just that with a new course, offered this winter, called Venture Assessment. The course is being offered in partnership with the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF). Since 2003, NBIF has invested over $15 million to help create more than 50 companies, and was ranked the third most active venture capital fund in its category by the Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) in their 2014 report on investment in Canada.

“Students are playing the role of investors by performing in-depth analysis on a selected set of NBIF’s portfolio companies,” says Martin Wielemaker, a UNB business professor who will be teaching the new course. “Students are getting a unique peek inside the minds of real venture capitalists.”

Throughout the learning process, students are applying the theory they learn in class to a selection of NBIF’s portfolio companies. Some of the activities include analysis of the global market for each venture, the competitive advantage of the product, service or technology, and the potential risks. In turn, they will develop strategies to mitigate or overcome such risks.

The skillset students are acquiring can be applied to more than just startups, as Calvin Milbury, CEO of NBIF explains. “Every business endeavor faces risks and barriers. Learning how to make informed decisions about risk and return is the most valuable skill the students will take away from this course.”

“The startup scene is taking off in Atlantic Canada right now,” observes Dev Mitra, dean of business administration. “Developing the precise skills and expertise required to evaluate real opportunities is more relevant now than ever.”

About NBIF:

NBIF is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that invests in new growth-oriented companies and applied research activities. With over $50 million invested, plus $315 million leveraged from other sources, NBIF has helped to create over 50 companies and fund over 350 applied research projects.

About UNB’s Faculty of Business Administration:

UNB Fredericton’s Faculty of Business Administration focuses on providing students with a solid business education made real through intense hands-on experiential and entrepreneurial learning opportunities. The faculty offers BBA and MBA degrees with several options for honours and concentrations. In addition, it offers the Student Investment Fund program through its Centre for Financial Studies and the Activator and other entrepreneurial programs through its International Business and Entrepreneurship Centre.

Media contact: Liz Lemon-Mitchell

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