College Park, Md. January 15, 2010 - Students from the United States and China took home a real-world lesson in global entrepreneurship with an innovative course that partnered the University of Maryland's leading Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship with the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University in Beijing. MBA students from the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business competed against their counterparts in China in a contest to present the best business plan pitch. The competition, now in its fifth year, was the culmination of a business plan course and trip to China for the Smith students.
As we know, with the westward shift of the center of gravity of the global economy towards the Asia Pacific, the 21st century has been forecast to be the Pacific century, said Zhang Weiying, dean of Peking University's Guanghua School of Management. How to grasp business opportunities in China is a current topic of interest. We will continue our efforts to forge alliances with prestigious partners around the world such as the University of Maryland's Smith School to provide a platform for students to develop their business skills.
Our students and students in China are benefitting from the global reach and entrepreneurial expertise of the Dingman Center, said G. Anand Anandalingam, dean of the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. This competition was a test of innovation and business skills that showed despite cultural differences, entrepreneurial traits are universal. Many of the U.S. and Chinese students had similar approaches to tackle new opportunities in China.
Teams of three to five MBA students from the Smith School were up against MBA teams from Guanghua School of Management, Tsinghua University and University of International Business and Economics (UIBE), all competing at Peking University's campus. Each team was tasked with pitching a business plan for a venture that would do business in China or leverage China in some way. Teams presented their business ideas before a panel of expert judges that included Smith School leaders, Dingman Center entrepreneurs-in-residence, and entrepreneurial experts from China. After the mornings preliminary-round competition the field of 32 teams was narrowed to six finalists. The top prize, $3,000 went to Gorilla Inc, a team from UIBE who pitched the plan for a marketing services business, and who also took home the prize for the audience-awarded Peoples Choice. The Guanghua School of Management had the greatest number of finalist teams a total of three.
The competition capped a weeklong trip to China and a six-week integrated entrepreneurship course offered by the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. The course incorporated the Dingman Centers experience assisting early-stage companies to guide participants through the steps of developing a business plan.
Our students gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about starting a business and working in China leading up to the competition and especially during their time in Beijing and through interacting with entrepreneurs and students there, said Asher Epstein, managing director of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business. This competition provided an interesting way to compare U.S. innovation with that of China.
This is the fifth China Business Plan Competition held by the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, in support of the growth of world-class business ideas and business leaders in China. Entrepreneurship is a key area of focus for the Smith School, which is internationally known for its entrepreneurship research and programs. The school was recently ranked No. 11 in the United States for entrepreneurship by the U.S. News & World Report college ranking report, Americas Best Colleges 2010, which evaluates undergraduate business programs.
About the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship
The Dingman Center has been a hub of campus and regional entrepreneurial activity for more than 20 years. Among the Dingman Centers resources are its Capital Access Network (CAN), a pipeline that connects startups from regional tech councils, incubators and state-funded institutions with a network of more than 32 active, accredited angel investors and venture capitalists for early-stage capital. The Center also helps lead the University of Maryland's Technology transfer programs and provides MBA and undergraduate students at the Smith School with practical experiences and opportunities to pitch their business ideas, obtain feedback from experienced entrepreneurs-in-residence and access funding.