Helping to change the nation’s fortunes from lucky to plucky, a new survey has identified which universities are producing the largest number of new-generation entrepreneurs.
The University of NSW has, again, been identified as Australia’s most entrepreneurial university, with the tiny private Bond University on the Gold Coast hot on its tail.
The analysis found that between 2014 and 2023, UNSW was associated with 182 funded founders and 212 funded start-up companies, while Bond had 105 founders and 211 start-ups.
In the past decade, almost 1800 startups developed at universities have gone on to receive funding.
“The connection with a university is correlation, not causation,” said David Burt, director of entrepreneurship at UNSW Founders, which conducted the research. UNSW has topped several similar surveys and last year came second to the University of Sydney for having produced the highest number of unicorns.
“The fact that UNSW keeps coming out on top is a function of two things. One is culture. UNSW was originally started as an institute for training engineers. So while it is a world-class research university, the DNA celebrating how to solve problems permeates everything we do at a cultural level,” Mr Burt said.
“The second thing is there has been over a decade of philanthropically funded support for entrepreneurship at UNSW.”
Using tech platforms Crunchbase and Dealroom, the analysis looked at the number of Australian start-up founders who had received venture capital funding and their relationship with a university.
It also analysed the data per 100,000 alumni so as not to give big, metropolitan universities the upper hand.
Keitha Dunstan, provost of Bond University, said entrepreneurialism is at the heart of the institution’s very foundations.
The university was the idea of business identity Alan Bond who wanted to create a unique learning experience modelled on the world’s leading private universities and Ivy League colleges.
“A lot of the founders’ objectives in wanting to start Australia’s first private university was their view that traditional public universities weren’t creating graduates with the right kind of spirit to be the entrepreneurs for the future,” Professor Dunstan said.
“So we started that way and 35 years on, we’re still continuing in that tradition. We have a strong emphasis on our graduate attributes, and part of that is having that very entrepreneurial outlook, a futuristic outlook, a willingness to take appropriate risks, and a willingness to look to the future for new opportunities. We try to do that and all of that graduates.”
Counted among Bond’s alumni is Neeti Mehta Shukla, who co-founded the company Automation Anywhere from her spare bedroom and built it into US$7.3 billion ($11 billion) tech trailblazer.
It is a cloud automation platform that uses robotic process automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning to create software robots that perform repetitive tasks typically carried out by humans.
Michele Stansfield, founder of Cauldron Ferm which produces foods, fuels and fibres using unique hyper-fermentation manufacturing techniques, says doing the UNSW Founders 10x accelerator program in 2022 was the ignition for her fledgling company to take off.
“The program was transformational. I didn’t know the value of the business when I started it. It was just an idea. And since then, we raised $10.5 million in our seed round, which was co-led by Main Sequence Ventures and Horizons Ventures,” Ms Stansfield said.
“It was the second-largest female-led seed round in Australian history, which was exciting.”
Article by Julie Hare.