4 Israeli universities feature among top 50 producers of entrepreneurs

Tel Aviv University in top 10; Technion, Hebrew U, and Ben-Gurion University are repeat entries, according to PitchBook data

Ricky Ben-David is a Times of Israel editor and reporter

Students at Tel Aviv University on the first day of the academic year, October 10, 2021. (Flash90)
Students at Tel Aviv University on the first day of the academic year, October 10, 2021. (Flash90)

Four Israeli universities were listed in PitchBook’s 2021 ranking of 50 leading undergraduate programs that produce the most VC-backed entrepreneurs, including Tel Aviv University, which ranked in the top 10.

The annual PitchBook study ranks programs across categories such as top 50 undergraduate programs, top 25 MBA programs, top 25 undergrad programs for female founders, and top 25 MBA programs for female founders. The 2021 study was released last week.

PitchBook Data is a company that delivers data and research covering mergers and acquisitions, VC and private equity funds.

In the ranking, Tel Aviv University came in at 8th place, for the fourth consecutive year; Technion-Israel Institute of Technology placed 12th, for the second consecutive year; Hebrew University of Jerusalem moved up one spot from last year to 31st; and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev placed 44th, up two spots from 2020.

Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, and Harvard University nabbed first, second and third place respectively, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and University of Pennsylvania rounded out the top five. Harvard took over the third spot in 2021 from MIT, which moved down to fourth place.

For the rankings, PitchBook tracked founders of companies that received a first round of venture funding between January 1, 2006, and August 31, 2021. All rankings are based on data solely within that timeframe, PitchBook said in a statement.

A Tel Aviv University building on campus. (Tel Aviv University)

The undergraduate programs at Tel Aviv University have helped create 912 graduates-turned-founders who have set up 761 companies and raised a total of $26.8 billion in the relevant period, according to the data. These include companies like retail tech firm Trax, which has raised over $1 billion in funding so far, interior design platform Houzz whose Israel husband-and-wife founders are preparing for an IPO next year, and Next Insurance, a company that has raised over $800 in venture founding so far.

Undergraduate programs at the Technion have created 682 founders with 577 companies, including the now-defunct Better Place, medical tech firm Insightech, and AI startup Gong. Founders who studied at the Technion went on to raise $18.9 billion, according to PitchBook.

The programs at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have generated 450 founders, who have set up 399 companies (including cybersecurity unicorns Wiz and Cybereason) and raised a total of $11.9 billion. Ben-Gurion University has created 314 founders who have set up 277 companies (e.g., logistics tech company Fabric and HR tech firm Hibob) and raised $8.3 billion.

Students at Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus, April 19, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/FLASH90)

Stanford University generated 1,643 entrepreneurs who went on to found 1,437 companies that raised $76.7 billion. These companies include Robinhood Markets, Snap, and DoorDash.

Among the top 25 MBA programs that churned out entrepreneurs, Harvard came in first, followed by Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania. Tel Aviv University and its MBA program at the Coller School of Management came in 13th in this list, unchanged from last year. The Israeli university was also the only one in PitchBook’s ranking of top 25 undergraduate programs for female founders, coming in 20th place to tie with the University of Illinois. Israeli companies founded or co-founded by female entrepreneurs who studied at the university include business management software company Honeybook, cybersecurity foundry Team8, and health tech company DayTwo.

In the ranking for top 25 MBA programs for female founders, Tel Aviv University tied with the University of Oxford in 14th place, up one spot from 2020. The program generated 26 female founders and 26 companies that raised $691 million. Harvard University ranked first in this list, with 343 female graduates and 325 companies that raised $17.9 billion.

“We are proud of the high international positioning of Tel Aviv University and the Coller School of Management. Our place among the world’s leading institutions reflects the achievements of our alumni and their contribution to the establishment and accelerated growth of many companies,” said Prof. Moshe Zviran, dean of the Coller School of Management and Chief Entrepreneurship and Innovation Officer at Tel Aviv University, in a statement Tuesday

Earlier this month, Tel Aviv University ranked fifth among world universities for producing entrepreneurs, according to a 2021 ranking put together by Startup Genome, an innovation policy advisory and research firm.

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