Deloitte has agreed to pay $250,000 in prize money in the next five years in Canada’s Business Model Competition, a program being organized by Norman Newman  Centre for Entrepreneurship at Dalhousie University’s Rowe School of Business.

The accountancy contributed $40,000 earlier this year for the first event, in which two teams of students from Dalhousie progressed on to the International Business Model Competition held at Harvard University. It has now provided the funding to expand the competition and make it a truly national event.  

In presenting the cheque to Dalhousie on Friday, Deloitte Partner Shannon MacDonald said she was thrilled by the competition in March. It was won by Spring Loaded Technology, which is developing a knee brace that increases the power of the joint, followed by Purchext, which is studying financial software that helps parents pay their kids’ living expenses when they’re away at university.

“My only regret was that there weren’t 500 people there as spectators,” MacDonald said about the March event. “It’s like the best entertainment going on a Saturday afternoon.”

Dalhousie is one of a handful of major partner institutions involved in the international competition – others are Stanford University, Brigham Young University, University of Michigan, and the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Winners of the Canadian competition will proceed to the international competition each year.

Ed Leach, the Dal professor who has organized the competition, said his mission in the coming months is to reach out to leading technical universities across Canada so that they can start to organize events. He envisages a system in which the championship would rotate each year, but be hosted by Halifax every second year to retain its attachment to Dalhousie.

Each national competition will award $30,000 in cash and $20,000 in in-kind services, but Leach warned that winners would only receive the money if they commit to use it to launch their product.

The winners of the 2013 competition spent last autumn taking the Starting Lean course led by Leach and Professor Mary Kilfoil. The course is based on lean startup methodology, in which entrepreneurs present their business model on a nine-panel canvas, and amend it as they hold repeated interviews with potential clients and partners.

The course launched several bona fide companies that are in the process of launching products, such as Spring Loaded, Sage Mixology and Analyze Re.

Leach said Friday that the Starting Lean course would be offered three times in the coming year – in the autumn, winter and summer.