Universities, Startups and Entrepreneurship

Student entrepreneurship and university-led incubating of startups are subjects I have covered before. Recently though I have jumped on several email lists for organizations dedicated to promoting university-level technology innovation and I hope to get more actively involved.

Here are some very cool stats I came across:

  • The 20-year returns for Early/Seed VCs is 20.6%, compared with 13.8% for Later Stage VCs and 8.2% for the S&P 500
  • 8% of all university startups go public, in comparison to a “going public rate” of only 0.07% for other U.S. enterprises – a 114x difference
  • Over 400 university startups are created nationally each year based on federally funded R&D examples include Google, Netscape, Genentech, Lycos, Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics, and Cisco
  • 68% of university startups created between 1980 to 2000 remained in business in 2001, while regular startups experienced a 90% failure rate during that same time period

One of the biggest problems I see with promoting innovation among students that university’s do a terrible job in branding available resources and programs. Most major universities with resources devoted to innovation brand themselves through two methods: ‘entrepreneurship’ which tends to be very academic with resources only available to students in particular programs, or branding through Technology Transfer a name and concept that means little to most students.

In coming posts, I hope to elaborate on how universities and colleges can more actively (and with better results) assist aspiring student entrepreneurs while simultaneously bolstering the school’s status and ultimately, endowment.

Also for those interested, there is a related conference coming up: University Startups 2007 – “Enabling Innovation”: A Transaction-focused Conference, October 3-5, 2007, Washington, D.C.


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