UCD produces the fifth highest number of founders in Europe

12 Sep 2023

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Trinity, UCC and DCU joined UCD in PitchBook’s latest ranking of universities in Europe that produce the most entrepreneurs at the undergraduate level.

Ireland performs strongly in Europe for the number of university graduates that go on to become start-up founders, according to the latest PitchBook data.

University College Dublin (UCD) has been ranked fifth in PitchBook’s latest ranking of European universities based on their start-up founder count. The list is confined to founders who attended the universities at the undergraduate level.

UCD was followed by Trinity College Dublin at rank 11, University College Cork (UCC) at rank 20 and Dublin City University (DCU) at rank 30. UCD was also the only Irish university to make it into the top 100 globally.

US-based data firm PitchBook publishes an annual ranking of global universities by tallying up the number of alumni entrepreneurs who have raised venture capital in the last decade. The latest rankings look at data between 2013 and 2023 and are based on an analysis of more than 150,000 VC-backed founders.

While the global rankings were led by Stanford University with a whopping 1,435 founders whose start-ups collectively raised more than $73bn, the University of Oxford topped the rankings in Europe with 286 founders who raised $8.4bn.

Other than UCD, the top five spots were all taken by UK universities, including the University of Cambridge, London School of Economics and the University of London.

UCD produced a total of 189 undergraduates who went on to found companies, raising a total capital of $2.6bn. Meanwhile Trinity had 139 founders who raised $2.2bn, UCC had 88 founders who raised nearly a billion and DCU had 68 founders who raised $259m.

“Since companies can have more than one founder, and founders can attend multiple schools, it is possible for the same company or founder to count toward multiple universities,” PitchBook clarified. This means there may be some overlap between Irish alumni founders.

All top 10 global spots, except for Israel’s Tel Aviv University at seventh place, were taken by US universities. University of California, Berkeley trailed Stanford at second place, followed by Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Some of the Irish-founded start-ups mentioned by PitchBook are UCD’s Woebot Health, Trinity’s LetsGetChecked and Intercom, UCC’s Wayflyer and Workvivo (acquired by Zoom in April) and DCU’s Brightflag.

UCD is also the only Irish university to place in European rankings for all three categories: undergraduate, postgraduate and MBA alumni. However, no Irish university made it into the ranking of universities based on their track record for women founders.

Ireland’s strong performance comes even as Dublin dropped out of the top 10 in a StartupBlink ranking of European cities that have the best start-up ecosystems just days ago.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic