KPU to use $500,000 fund to invest in student business case competition teams

An annual amount of $25,000 will go towards supporting students who compete locally and internationally

Allan Davis receiving a large cheque from George and Sylvia Melville. (Flickr/ Kwantlen Polytechnic University)

KPU president Alan Davis poses with George and Sylvia Melville in recognition of their recent donation to the school. (Flickr/ Kwantlen Polytechnic University)

Last month, Kwantlen Polytechnic University renamed its business school after receiving an $8 million donation, with $500,000 going towards the Endowed Case Competition Fund to support KPU students who enter local and international business competitions.

These competitions provide students with the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they learned in class to real-world situations. They develop their business skills such as public speaking, networking, and critical thinking with a team led by a faculty member. 

The competition also allows students to interact with other students from different programs, schools and industry professionals. 

Last spring KPU hosted its first national business competition, which was held through Zoom. 

Damon Mann, president of KPU’s Case Analysis Network, says the Melville donation will help the group find and access more competitions and give them some flexibility.

“Through that, it allows the School of Business to be self-sufficient and less reliant on the school’s entire funds, so they’ll be able to provide their own funding from this donation,” says Mann.

“So for example, for the case competition fund, rather than reaching into the school’s economic fund or their own budget, there will be a fund set up annually […] to be able to send business students to various competitions that we’ve competed in in the past.”

Currently, KPU CAN is planning on promoting more case competitions and running case analysis workshops. They are working with the KPU Marketing Association on the workshops to increase involvement and awareness among marketing students and faculty members. 

The KPUMA focuses on developing hands-on marketing and business skills for KPU students. 

Mann wrote in an email to The Runner that they are currently working on the details, and more information should be announced later this semester. 

With the donation, he says it can “help grow within the KPU community and keep it at the forefront of why students should be taking part in the KPU business faculty.” 

Carlos Calao, a KPU business instructor and the department chair of Entrepreneurial Leadership, says that although specific details of how the funds will be used are still being discussed, they may be used to cover the costs of purchasing new classroom technology and competition travel expenses.

“Right now, we literally cover everything for the students, so there are no fees for them. So the more of these competitions we engage in, the more the costs go up,” he says.

“If I take a student team to Kelowna, and they’re there for four-five days, you have hotel rooms, you’ve got flights, you’ve got insurance, you have spending money for meals that we reimburse students for,” he says.

“Imagine having an additional [$25,000] that you can use to support students in cases, it’s just awesome. The focus is on the student,” says Calao. “This will just make it so much easier for us to do more of what we’re doing today.” 

Calao says the most satisfying part of attending case competitions is seeing students develop better communication and business analysis skills over time.

“I’m so passionate about seeing the growth of people,” he says. 

“Spending two years with them and seeing them grow professionally, where, perhaps, they are at one point afraid to speak in front of people or very anxious. And suddenly we’re in Singapore and there’s a hall, and there’s three or 400 people in the hall, and here’s a group of KPU students from somewhere in Surrey talking to global leaders and talking to business enterprises … The fact that the students and faculty are coming in on their own time, it makes the entire experience better.”