Tel Aviv University ranks in top 10 for entrepreneurship

TAU places 9th in PitchBook report for undergrad programs that produced the most start-up founders; Technion and Hebrew U make the top 40

Illustrative photo of the Tel Aviv University campus. (Andrew Tobin/JTA)
Illustrative photo of the Tel Aviv University campus. (Andrew Tobin/JTA)

In its latest survey, PitchBook Data, a leading provider of data and technology to the private equity and venture capital industries, ranks Tel Aviv University as ninth in the world – and first outside the US – as the best place for an undergraduate entrepreneur to graduate from if they want to raise money for a start-up.

The 2015 edition of the PitchBook Universities Report shows that TAU, over the past five years, produced 250 undergrad entrepreneurs (founders or co-founders of tech start-ups), who between them started 204 companies. On average, those Israeli start-ups attracted $1,754,000 in venture capital investments.

All other universities on the top 10 list of undergraduate entrepreneurship successes were located in the US, and included such institutions as Stanford (which ranked first), UC Berkeley, MIT, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, University of Texas and University of Illinois (in 10 place).

Two other Israeli universities – the Technion, ranked 20th, and Hebrew University, ranked 39th – were part of the PitchBook top 50 universities for undergraduate entrepreneurship success.

Forty-three of the top 50 schools were in the US; besides the three in Israel, there were also three in Canada, and one in Ireland.

When ranking institutions outside the US and Europe (including in Canada), Tel Aviv University ranks first, the Technion second and Hebrew University sixth. The non-US/Europe list also includes Ben Gurion University, which came in ninth overall for entrepreneurs graduated and companies started among undergrads.

Among MBAs who started their own companies, TAU didn’t rank as well, coming in 13th (besides US schools, France’s INSEAD and the London Business School outranked Tel Aviv in the number of entrepreneurs graduated and companies started). But it was still by far the best-ranked institutions outside the US and EU for MBAs to attend if they wanted start-up success; TAU MBA graduates started 80 companies since 2010, raising $1.12 million per company on average – and far outpacing the second institution on the non-US/Europe list, which was the Indian School of Business, whose MBA graduates established 28 start-ups between 2010 and 2015.

One reason for the success of American institutions in promoting entrepreneurship, according to PitchBook, is the easier access to money, talent and mentors that US institutions can avail themselves of.

“There’s a fairly strong case to be made that often it’s not even the degree you graduate with but the personal connections you make in your time at school that determine your future,” said the PitchBook report. “It’s to be expected that top-notch schools lend themselves to the types of ambitious, inspired innovators who start plenty of companies and rake in plenty of venture capital. Yet that just goes to show just how valuable the networks created by those types of people are while they are at school. It also is impressive to see how many companies have been started by entrepreneurs from those schools, not to mention how much VC they have garnered.”

Considering Israel doesn’t have the same resources as in the US makes the country’s achievements all the more impressive, according to PitchBook.

In a recent blog post, the group said that Israel “has become a contender in the heavyweight ranks of VC investment in the past few years, with its start-ups raising over $2.7 billion since the beginning of 2012.”

Although far from the money and tech power centers of the United States, Israeli companies like Gett, IronSource, Celeno, Zerto and many others have thrived, raising tens of millions in VC money over the past several years (at $193 million, Gett, formerly GetTaxi, is Israel’s biggest VC fundraiser), and the country’s start-ups are expected to continue to thrive, PitchBook said.

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