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April 03, 2024 | Tom Ballard

Top U.S. colleges for business founders ranked by Switch On Business

Listing looked at 250 universities and ranked them based on most businesses started in city of graduates, state where founders graduated, and most productive by state.

Today, nearly a third of college students plan to start a company just as soon as they graduate, with the same survey revealing that 17 percent already run a business while studying.

With this in mind, Switch On Business went in search of the U.S. colleges that see the most business founder graduates launch companies within their college’s city or state. Guess what the results were?

  • Utah Valley University (UVU) was ranked #1 for the number of graduates who open businesses in the same state as their alma mater. If that institution of higher education sounds familiar, it should. Before accepting the role as Executive Director of the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK), Breanna Hale was Director of the Entrepreneurship Institute at UVU. Switch on Business reported that 80 percent of UVU alums who have founded businesses have done so in Utah — more than any other state. Texas State University placed #2.
  • In terms of the university that had the most businesses started in the city where it was located, topping the list was Hunter College in New York City. More than one-half (55 percent to be exact) of the graduates of Hunter College who founded a business between 2014 and September 2023 did so within the local area. That’s a higher proportion than any other college in the U.S. Georgia State University placed #2.

Here’s how Switch On Business described the methodology it used for the rankings: “We first retrieved the 250 U.S. colleges that have produced the most business founders overall according to LinkedIn’s college profile pages, adding the most enrolled colleges locally to our seed list for states represented by just one university. Using Crunchbase, we then retrieved the number of business founders from each college who launched a business between 2014 and September 2023 within the same state or city of their alma mater. For each college, we could then calculate the proportion of their graduate founders who launched a business locally.”

In terms of the university in each state that produces the most entrepreneurs who start a business in that state, UT was tops in Tennessee. No mention of whether that was all UT campuses or just the Knoxville campus.

The study can be found here.


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