Ken Spencer Competition

Ken Spencer Business Plan Competition

What do you get when you bring engineers and business students together?


Ken Spencer was one of the founders of Creo, a great business success in the British Columbia technology sector.  After his company was sold to Kodak, Ken wanted to leave a legacy that would encourage students to think big and to follow through on their ideas to create a thriving, entrepreneurial technology sector that would benefit all citizens of BC.

During his professional life, Ken observed a disconnect between people with technology ideas and those with the management skills to market the ideas. He believed that by encouraging students with technical and management backgrounds to collaborate on a common goal, exciting new businesses would result.  What better way than to sponsor an entrepreneurial business competition?  In 2002, Ken funded the SFU new venture business competition that bears his name.

How it Works

Engineering students from ENSC201 team up with business students from BUS477 to develop a new business idea.  Each team should have 4-6 members of which 3 or 4 come from ENSC201 and 1 or 2 from BUS477.

The business idea must have a technology focus and the key product for the business must come from the engineers.  Any idea that promises to be
commercially successful and that is approved by the instructor of ENSC201 is valid.

Over the semester, engineering and business students refine the idea.  How should it be priced?  Who are the competitors?  How do we protect our idea from competitors?  Do we need to raise money?  How much… and what will we offer our investors?

At the end of the semester, students of BUS477 are graded on their detailed business plans and how they communicate their idea to a simulated panel of investors.  The top four or five business ideas in the class are then invited to participate in the Ken Spencer Competition.

Coaching is provided by a teaching assistant who is engaged specifically to help teams collaborate and otherwise prepare for the competition.  An
independent panel of 3 to 5 judges evaluates the finalists and awards prizes to the top three finishers.

Benefits of Participation

The competition not only provides an opportunity for collaboration across academic lines, it helps apply and focus course work in different
disciplines such as accounting, finance, marketing and human resources.

The top three (3) teams in the Ken Spencer Competition are awarded cash prizes:

$3,000 – 1st
$1,500 – 2nd
$500 – 3rd

Many participants in the competition will go on to participate in other student and professional business plan competitions around the world.  In
keeping with Ken Spencer’s vision, some teams will become “real” businesses.

Administration and Management of the Competition

The competition is administered by SFU’s Manager, Student Engagement and Recruitment.