Ideas with Impact
UNB Faculty of Management

Putting knowledge into action: venture capitalists in the making with NBIF

Author: Liz Lemon-Mitchell

Posted on Mar 3, 2020

Category: Students , Programs , Student Highlights

Since last fall a group of UNB students have been working side-by-side with staff at the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF) to master the tools of venture capitalism. In the next few days they will be putting their knowledge to the test as they join other students from across Canada to compete in the Venture Capital Investment Competition (VCIC) hosted by Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. NBIF is sponsoring their trip.

Most of these students are completing the Concentration in Entrepreneurship in the BBA and MBA programs offered by the faculty of management and are enrolled in the year-long Venture Assessment course taught by NBIF. The course immerses them into the world of entrepreneurship and venture capitalism by teaching them how to assess whether a venture is ready for start-up funding. As they learn how to conduct due diligence, students are applying their knowledge by making $25K-$75K investments in real start-ups across New Brunswick.

According to fourth year BBA student Alex Sutherland, “The Venture Assessment class is the epitome of experiential learning in entrepreneurship. Getting to interact face-to-face with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists allows us to gain perspective on both sides of an investment.”

Learning “how all companies operate, from startups to multinationals,” is something Simon Ferron appreciates about the class. Ferron says the knowledge he has gained about venture capital will be useful in so many situations, “… from reading news releases about acquisitions to being an employee at a company which could be acquired. Anyone who has ever thought about being part of a successful startup should familiarize themselves with venture capital; the value in it is indispensable.”

NBIF is an independent non-profit corporation that specializes in venture capital and research investments. Dedicated to building innovation in New Brunswick, it delivers the resources and expertise required to achieve new opportunities, growth, and advancements in the province. The partnership with UNB to teach the venture assessment course is helping to build expertise in venture capital in the region and produce entrepreneurial graduates able to understand both sides of a business venture.

Raymond Fitzpatrick, Director of Investments at NBIF, teaches the Venture Assessment class and has been coaching the students for the VCIC as part of NBIF’s sponsorship. He says, "It's been a pleasure watching the students apply the skills they have learned in class to make real investments in real start-ups. These skills will again be put to task as they compete against schools from all across Canada in the VCIC competition."

VCIC is a competition in which students play the role of investors and listen to pitches by real startups looking for seed funding. The students are the investors, not the entrepreneurs. They play the role of analysts in a venture capital firm assessing the startups as potential investments.

“VCIC will truly test our knowledge of Venture Capital,” says Ferron. “We will be going up against people from all over Canada."

This group of students has been honing their assessment skills since September. Each day brings them closer to the VCIC test that takes place on March 6. If they win, they will move on to the Global Final in Chapel Hill, North Carolina later in March.

Photo: UNB students in the Venture Assessment course are excited to put their knowledge into action at the Venture Capital Investment Competition hosted by Saint Mary’s University. Members of the undergraduate team are (front left to right) Simon Ferron, Amber Weekes, Brandon McVicar, (back left to right) Luke Saunders and Alex Sutherland.

For more information contact Liz Lemon-Mitchell at