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With geopolitical ambitions in Africa, China is eager to enhance the francophone language skills of its business students. Meanwhile, the Faculty of Business Administration at Université Laval wants to raise its international profile, especially among students in French-speaking and emerging countries.

Under a recent agreement, Chinese students at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, a management education school, will take French-language and basic business courses during a preparatory year at Laval.

Assuming French-language proficiency, they will enter Laval's business school for a three-year bachelor's degree.

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"Laval will not only increase its own promotional activities but will capitalize on its network of partnerships to increase awareness of its training programs throughout the world," Laval director of international relations Zhan Su said in a press release.

Non-business school wins award

The University of Waterloo does not have a business school but is the big winner in a global competition to spur innovation in this field of education.

Of $7.1-million (U.S.) awarded to projects in six countries, U of W's Conrad Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Centre walked off with one of the top awards: $1.6-million over five years to establish a virtual incubation program for young entrepreneurs.

"The judges liked the proposal and thought it had a good opportunity for global reach," says Allen Brandt, director of the Management Education for Tomorrow Fund established in 2010 by the Graduate Management Admission Council, which owns the MBA entrance test.

"Imagine someone in the central part of the U.S., eastern Europe or Africa, where there are no resources close by, and who all of a sudden can tap into a global network of education, resources and all sorts of things," says Mr. Brandt. "It is life-changing."

In 2011, the GMAC fund selected 20 ideas to improve business education – including one from Canadian Patrick Cheung, a 2009 Ivey School of Business graduate. Then GMAC threw out the challenge to anyone, not just business schools, to bring the winning concepts to life.

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Last November, just weeks before the deadline, Conrad centre director Rod McNaughton contacted Mr. Cheung after he was interviewed by the Globe and Mail about his winning suggestion that business schools expand opportunities for students to dream up – and market – their product or service.

Egged on by Mr. Cheung, a 25-year-old product manager with Bell Canada, Mr. McNaughton saw the potential to expand his centre's Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology, a one-year degree program offered on campus, into a virtual setting.

The current program, says Mr. McNaughton, "has a whole series of gates that students go through to build their venture to the point where it is ready to leave the university and go out into the community, to perhaps find funding."

In the virtual setting, he says, "we want to take everything we have learned in that face-to-face perspective and put it online."

For the next couple of years, the centre (a department of the school of engineering) will pilot a virtual version of the course, with training, mentoring and resources for students in what is, in essence, a pre-incubator environment. The program, offered free for now, will focus on the 18-month experience and comes with no certificate or degree.

Once the bugs are worked out locally, Mr. McNaughton plans to set up the virtual program to nurture student entrepreneurs anywhere in the world, likely through partnerships with other institutions.

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That kind of seed-sowing is a key goal of the GMAC fund.

"We know there may be people a little bit upset with us [by not limiting the competition to business schools]but we are funding ideas that are usable, transferrable and global," says Mr. Brandt.

Mr. Cheung says he is delighted that the Conrad centre's "pretty cool idea" will become international in reach.

His chance relationship with Waterloo is not over, though. He plans to take up the centre's invitation to stay involved as it prepares for the first 20 or so students this fall.

New dean appointed

The Peter B. Gustavson School of Business at the University of Victoria has reached from within for its next dean.

Prof. Saul Klein, Lansdowne Professor of International Business, joined the faculty in 2001 and has been director of executive programs since 2004.

His research interests include the study of emerging-market multinationals and the competitiveness of emerging markets.

His five-year term begins July 1, 2012, and runs until June 30, 2017.

Professor honoured

The Academy of Management, the largest scholarly management association in the world, has named Henry Mintzberg, John Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at McGill University's Desautels Faculty of Management, as the 2012 BPS Irwin Outstanding Educator. Prof. Mintzberg is the author of Managers Not MBAs, which urged business schools to pay more attention to teaching the art of management, not just theory.

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jlewington@bell.net

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