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More than four in five startup founders in Australia are university graduates, a new report that quantifies the strong links between universities and the startup economy has confirmed. 

Startup Smarts: universities and the startup economy, a joint project between Universities Australia and Startup Muster, will be launched at the National Press Club in Canberra today.

With more than 100 programs at Australian universities to support startups, the report also reveals that around one in five founders have benefited from an acceleration or incubation program. 

Universities Australia’s Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said the report showed universities play an indispensable role in Australia’s largest job creating sector. 

“Startups are projected to create more than half a million jobs over the coming decades and are already contributing more than $160 billion to the Australian economy,” Ms Robinson said. 

“This report confirms universities are the key ingredient in this promising part of our economy.” 

“They provide the skills, training, support and the physical space to nurture the next generation of entrepreneurs.” 

Ms Robinson said the report also showed universities are leading the expansion of the startup economy and have adapted rapidly to the changing expectations of students. 

“Many students now want to start their own businesses and careers – rather than work for someone else,” she said. 

“A growing and impressive list of university programs and courses help students to learn the entrepreneurial skills they will need to turn a clever idea into a new Australian business.” 

The report draws data from a Startup Muster survey of more than 600 startup founders. 

It finds the top skills for founding team members were strongly tied to professional university-level qualifications. 

These include software development (64 per cent), business (61 per cent), marketing (37 per cent), scientific research (13 per cent), engineering (14 per cent) and legal skills (11 per cent). 

University educated founders were also more likely to be founding startups in some of the most cutting-edge specialist fields like medtech, education startups and fintech.
The report includes case studies of seven startup founders who range across industries and locations across Australia. 

“Their stories show us that universities were there at key moments when these inspiring startup founders were working to get their ideas off the ground,” Ms Robinson said. 

“Their university experiences equipped them with professional skills, business networks and contacts – and help from specialist incubators or accelerators – to start their companies.” 

Startup founders featured in the report are available for media interviews. 

Please contact Misha Schubert (0421 612 351) or Bella Counihan (0419 212 219) to arrange an interview. 

Find a copy of the full report here (PDF 1.4MB)

Universities Australia Media Contacts

Misha Schubert
02 6285 8133
Mobile: 0421 612 351

Bella Counihan
Ph: 02 6285 8123
Mobile: 0419 212 219 

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