Surprise: The Best University Accelerators Aren’t in the United States

Swedish research firm UBI Global released its rankings of the top university-associated incubators around the world. Top of the list? The SETsquared Partnership in Bristol, England. Rankings were determined based on total investment, the number of jobs created, and the number of successful firms born out of the incubator.

The only university-supported incubator on the list from the U.S. is 1871 and the five universities it works with in the Chicago area. Earlier this year, Northwestern opened a 24/7, 11,000-square-foot maker space in partnership with 1871, “where ideas, not companies, will be built.” Princeton opened an entrepreneurial hub off campus last month where students as well as alumni and community can collaborate.

Notably absent from UBI’s list are names like Stanford, Harvard, and MIT, schools historically associated with producing major companies and creating trillions of dollars in wealth. As many as 16 percent of this year’s Stanford Graduate School of Business students founded a company, more than five times the average at the University of Chicago, where building a business before graduation is also not encouraged. The argument is what you’d expect.

Founding a company can bring heartache and most student ventures fail, Garth Saloner, departing dean of Stanford, told The Wall Street Journal. It’s easy to understand why colleges would create a space for entrepreneurs to connect with local resources. A school’s entrepreneurial prowess isn’t just a perk or incentive anymore. It’s a main selling point for Millennials, 54 percent of whom say they plan to start a business or have already. Such directions may not slow the flow, but when two of the top institutions say slow down, perhaps there’s a trend forming.

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Photo Credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg

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