What is VBIC?
VBIC stands for Virtual Business Innovation Centre.
The Virtual Business Innovation Centre is a Joint Initiative of the University of Winnipeg and the Aboriginal Business Development Centre. The concept draws upon the experience of the CyberVillage, Virtual Incubation Manitoba and the Aboriginal Business Innovation Centre. The best of all these successful projects has been brought to VBIC.
Virtual Business Innovation Centre Overview
Most knowledgeable leaders in the economic development field have long since discovered that the encouragement of an entrepreneurial atmosphere and the development of management skills is a necessary component of any economic development strategy. Having a Virtual Business Innovation Centre that delivers high quality business education and training is a significant economic development initiative for several reasons. The two most important of which are, reduced attention by both the centre and participant on managing the real estate side of a business and the ability to work from a distance, at the Innovation Centre or on-site with the participant.
VBIC's business incubation activities improve the survival rate of the participant companies and encourages business retention according to studies conducted in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. Studies have shown that 87% of businesses receiving incubation services remain and grow in the municipality in which they were incubated. VBIC has already provided "virtual incubation" to Aboriginal start-ups and expanding companies which have added substantially to the sustainable growth of the economy. Virtual incubation services are an economic tool that can be used to encourage entrepreneurship in all communities – geographic or cultural. Manitoba’s Aboriginal people benefit greatly from the creation of entrepreneurial activities within their communities.
VBIC is designed to assist companies in the start-up or expansion phases of business. Counselling services vary according to the needs of the participating companies; they commonly include management services such as business planning, strategic planning, market development, counselling and mentoring.
The Focus Is On Education
The primary focus of VBIC is education and training in all aspects of business, including marketing, bookkeeping, management and strategy. Our participant entrepreneurs will be offered whatever path is appropriate for the education they need. This may take the form of one-on-one counselling, research, distance education or classroom opportunities. At the end of 52 weeks, the training component will be cut back to a maintenance level for the next year.
Participants will continue to be in touch with the VBIC. And, it is the goal of VBIC to have graduates become mentors themselves as their business experience grows.
There is a second component to the education and that is for select participants to become Interns and Research Assistants. Students from the U of W Faculty of Business and Education who are particularly interested in Economic and Community Development may be recruited and trained in delivering business counselling to future participant entrepreneurs. VBIC has already chosen the first two students, an aboriginal woman from the Island Lakes communities in Manitoba and an international student who wishes to deliver incubation in his home country.
As has been proven by the Canadian Association of Business Incubators, the National Business Incubation Association in the U.S. and the network of Business Innovation Centres in Europe, business education forms a stable base to successful entrepreneurship.