May 18, 2013 - 9:02pm

VIU's fourth year Graphic Design students had an opportunity to hone their skills pitching design ideas to members of the business community in a "Dragons' Den Style" event . It was part of a unique partnership with the Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce.

First the students were challenged to identify a problem and create a campaign using design that could help solve the problem. For example, Laura Timmermans wanted to encourage food court restaurants in Woodgrove to use environmentally sustainable packaging. She designed the packaging and created a campaign that included ways to reward vendors who decided to use her product.

Another student, Trina M'Lot, wanted to address our extroverted world by reminding people that being an introvert is ‘okay’. She defined three audiences: corporate business managers, teachers and university students and designed different products to deliver her message. For the business managers, she designed a desktop note pad that gave daily tips on how to include introverts in the boardroom; for university students, she designed a sticker campaign that showcased famous introverts like Gandhi.

All of the students then had to create a professional presentation about their idea to give to the Chamber.

The process began in the middle of February 2013 when students began developing their projects. Then they met with the Chamber and pitched their ideas to panels made up of members of the business community. The panels provided critical feedback that the students used to get a tighter solution.

“The panels’ feedback was generally very positive but some students discovered that it was difficult to articulate their ideas,” says Nancy Pagé, Co-chair of the Art & Design department, and an instructor. “This process gave them an opportunity to focus their presentation skills as well as to practice the verbal articulation of a complex conceptual idea.”

Timmermans’ was one of the most successful presentations and through a chance relationship between a panelist and the manager of the Food Court at Woodgrove Mall, it may take flight.

“Building bridges between the Chamber and VIU is so important,” says Kim Smythe of WestCoast Communications, a member of the Nanaimo Chamber who worked with Pagé to develop and coordinate the project. “We asked ourselves how VIU and the community could interface more effectively. There’s so much talent here, we want to expose that to the business community, and create an awareness of the diversity that’s available right here.”

Pagé hopes to continue working with the Chamber as it gives students real world experience. “All the students found it incredibly rewarding as it was a great opportunity to get feedback from an amazing panel of prominent business people in the community.”

For more information contact Nancy Pagé at

Tags: In the Community

Sign up for our VIU news and experts email