New this year, with a special nod to the importance and relevance of ethics and ethical behavior, was the inclusion of so-called social entrepreneurship projects, such as those that protect the natural world.
The International Venture Fair, sponsored by the Fox School's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute — and staged with the support of 14 local and international partners, including the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Central Atlantic Region — was held on the university's North Broad Street main campus.
Eleven companies, including two from Israel, were represented at this year's fair. Temple IMBA (International MBA) students worked on the companies' business plans, as part of their studies, with students from universities overseas — including, for the first time, students from the University of Dublin-Trinity College. They made presentations of six minutes on the current position, relative power, market strength and future growth possibilities of the companies.
Serving as master of ceremonies at the fair was Richard A. Bendis, president and CEO, True Product ID, Inc., a company that produces integrators for anti-counterfeiting and security surveillance applications, and a former president, Innovation Philadelphia, a public-private partnership dedicated to growing the wealth and workforce of the Greater Philadelphia region.
"For students, the value of the fair is that it pushes them to present at another level of polish, and of brevity and sophistication," explained T.L. Hill, faculty manager, Temple's Global Entrepreneurship and Technology Consulting Practicum. "In business, there is a great deal of networking, there are relationships to build, people to meet and introductions that have to be made. The GET practicum and fair help in all of these key areas.
"The fair's value for companies," Hill continued, "is defining a similar level of polish, and also building relationships that sometimes can take years to come to fruition. At the fair, investors find a place for prospecting, offered in a reasonable way."
Through last month, he noted, the GET program has provided professional quality market and industry information for 82 firms, and helped 14 firms secure investments worth $20.9 million.
Teams of Temple IMBA students and IMBA overseas' students collaborated for nearly a year on designing business plans for the 11 participating companies, eight of which were GET projects.
"The GET program has become so successful that as of September 2005 a similar real-world experience is now required for all Fox School MBA students," said M. Moshe Porat, Ph.D., CPCU, dean, the Fox School, and a Joseph E. Boettner Professor of Risk Management & Insurance.
Among the teams were two from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheva. They and the Temple teams worked on plans for the two Israeli companies: GRT Development, Ltd., Ramat Gan, and Scientific Biopsy, Even Yehuda.
"This program gives students on both sides of the world real-life experience in business and communications," said professor Dov Dvir, chair of the department of management at Ben-Gurion University. "It's good for all involved: the students, the companies, the universities — everyone benefits."
Two of the Israeli students who participated were Libby Voltsis and Shirley Keren, both industrial engineers, educated at Ben-Gurion, and now back at their alma mater as MBA candidates with management aspirations in Israel.
Beginning With a Start-Up
Both worked on the plan for GRT Development, a start-up company that has developed an innovative fluid flow-measurement technology for medical applications, such as insulin pumps. In fact, the company has come up with a new, less expensive insulin pump that will cost $2,600 per year to operate, compared with existing pumps that cost about $5,400 per year to use. GRT estimated that sales would top $18 million by 2011.
"Working on this project to promote GRT's insulin pump offered global experience from a business perspective," explained Voltsis.
"It was a good way to gain the kind of business experience we can use later on," added Keren.
Both women acknowledged that they enjoyed the process from a cultural point of view. "This is the first time we've actually been in Philadelphia, which we like very much, especially the oldest part (Old City). It has been strictly e-mails, phone calls, and phone conferences with the professors and students at Temple until now," said Voltsis.
When asked what they did for Philly-style fun, she and Keren mentioned seeing the Liberty Bell, visiting Independence Hall and, of course, running up the world-famous steps of the art museum, à la Rocky Balboa, and celebrating at the top with arms raised high in triumph.
The other Israeli company at the fair, Scientific Biopsy, was founded in 2004, and is a leading high-tech firm that develops and manufactures a variety of sophisticated needle-biopsy-guiding systems based on robotics technology. It came in search of an initial $2 million.
Israeli student Amichai Haber was part of the Scientific Biopsy team. "I believe in the company and its products. Also, the program was a good opportunity to see this region and learn about its business atmosphere," he said.
Temple IMBA student Alana Knapp was part of the same team. "Working on this project for Scientific Biopsy gave me a good idea of what it's actually like to work, not just travel, internationally," she stated.
Just before the student presentations began, keynote speaker Lewis Katz — a Temple grad and well-known lawyer, entrepreneur and philanthropist — addressed the audience, regaling it with wonderful stories of his life and times in the business world.
His stories of friendships, with the likes of Bill Cosby, and financial conquests were riveting and revealing; his advice pragmatic: "Ethics is so important. Stay out of gray areas, sleep the sleep of the innocent and don't be afraid to lose."