Royal Roads University: Potential to Become an Entrepreneurial University in Tectoria

Victoria (aka “Tectoria”), Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada


Map of Royal Roads University

Royal Roads University is a public university located in Colwood, British Columbia. It has a very interesting history as a former military training facility and a family estate. It is know in the region for its beautiful setting and its castle, in addition to its innovative education. I have identified the university as being one of the top candidates in Canada for a transformation from a teaching university into an entrepreneurial university

You can learn more about Royal Roads University here:  A young university currently in its “adolescent” years, it is  located near the capital of British Columbia, Canada, and was an innovator in distance education for working adults at its inception in 1995 .  However, as the competition has increased over the last 20 years in online learning, the university has had to rethink its strategy. Here is its current strategic plan

It has a strong track record and an amazing collection of assets, including buildings, land, timber and an endowment that are currently underutilized. Other assets with untapped potential include its alumni network and current student base. As Henry Etzkowitz remarks, universities are full of inventors and entrepreneurs.

Its campus plan  Currently it leases land from the Federal  Government of Canada on a 99  year lease.  The university should leverage its knowledge, physical assets, alumni and student populations to propel it to the next stage of the entrepreneurial university.

Below you will find a set of recommendations that was communicated to the university in the Autumn of 2013. This study and report was funded by the Eric C. Douglas Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies that is led by the dynamic Dr. Geoffrey Archer, who is an entrepreneur himself and an MBA classmate of mine from the Johnson School at Cornell University.

RRU University Venture Capital Report 31 May Final Final 11 July 2013-1

These recommendations surround a four pronged strategy of a building

1)a world class incubator of student start-ups;

2) an international student entrepreneur attraction programme

3) a private university venture capital fund and a student venture capital fund;

4) an angel network.

There are a variety of potential partnerships recommended for early exploration such as ViaTech,and Accelerate Tectoria. Others include Vanouver Island University and the University of Victoria, as it makes sense for the universities to leverage their resources together and avoid replicating programmes. However, this is always easier to put on paper than actually do with such actors. Another programme for consideration for knowledge exchange is StartX which spun out of Stanford University.

In a nutshell the Victoria region, also known as “Tectoria” is short on risk capital (as are many regions), support systems for student start-ups, and incubation facilities for the same. The university could play a crucial “feeder role” as described by Brad Feld in Startup Communities.   There are gaps to be filled and the university is in a prime position to do so. Canada’s comparatively liberal immigration policy should be leveraged for the introduction and an entrepreneurial attraction programme. I have estimate the total investment needed to be approximately $15 million for the implementation of the above programmes.

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