KARL MAACK, UNIVERSITY OF GÖTEBORG, SWEDEN
MAGNUS KLOFSTEN, LINKÖPING UNIVERSITY, SWEDEN
THOMAS HEDNER, UNIVERSITY OF GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN
Abstract: Venture Cup is a business plan competition that started in 1998 in close collaboration with Universities and Business Schools in Northern Europe. The competition is a non-profit event run by regional Nordic Venture Cup organizations in Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark and together this business start-up concept is considered to be the largest business plan competition in the world. Each year more than 800 participants in Sweden enter the 3-stage process of the competition where they formulate their business idea, market plan and finally a complete business plan. The course runs each year from November through to May during which participants engage in lectures, workshops, rocket pitching, writing business plans, coaching and mentoring at the University. Venture Cup has grown into the premiere Nordic entity whose main interest is helping entrepreneurs with aspiring business ideas to create a start-up company in a structured framework of educational activities, coaching, mentoring and voluntary society and business community support activities. The purpose of the competition is to promote entrepreneurship within Scandinavian universities and the society as a whole as well as to generate high-growth start-up companies. More than $400Kis given away as prizes across the Nordic competition events every year. The societal impact of Venture Cup over the years has been significant, and from its start it has significantly contributed to job creation, especially in the high tech area. This paper aims to describe the general set-up and the success factors of Venture Cup, as an example of a well-established Business Plan Competition. The focus is on Sweden, which has been the most successful region. Factors described are stakeholder value, academic cooperation, type of management and operative incentives, responsiveness to change, types of participants, openness and how the growth process has occurred of the competition itself. We also detail some of the offerings provided such as networking, entrepreneurial orientation and attitude shift of the participants, as well as their tacit and narrative business training. In the Nordic setting, Venture Cup has emerged as a concept upon which start-up companies are built. The competition is a test arena for novel entrepreneurial ideas, and it has demonstrated its potential as a value-creating network for innovators, entrepreneurs, academia, as well as the regional government and business community.
Keywords: Business Plan competitions, entrepreneurship, innovation, regional development, and empowerment.