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Oxford University has won Europe number one for ‘unicorn’ start-ups

New research has revealed that Oxford alumni have founded eight billion dollar startups

Oxford University has produced more start-ups valued in excess of $1 billion than any other university in Europe over the past decade, a new study has revealed.

Oxford alumni have founded eight such ‘unicorn’ companies in the last ten years, so named as they are exceedingly rare.

The report, published by British software firm Sage Oxford, puts Oxford seventh globally, but firmly leading in Europe. Cambridge does not feature in the top fifteen.

Oxford still has a long way to go before catching up with Harvard (51 billion-dollar companies) and Stanford (37).

However, Oxford’s closest European rivals, French business-school INSEAD and German Management school WHU, lay claim to five unicorns each.

Companies founded by Oxford alumni include Linkedin, created by former Wolfson college philosophy student Reid Hoffman, and ticketing platform Eventbrite launched by Kevin Hartz who read History at the University.

Start-ups have gained increasing support from Oxford in the past few years. Last month Cherwell reported that Alex Snow, former chief executive of Lansdowne, had left the company to focus on his involvement with Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI).

OSI, the University’s technology and research commercialisation company, has currently raised more than £580 million to support spinoff start-ups from the university.

A spokesperson for OSI told Cherwell: “The news that Oxford University is leading in generating founders of billion-dollar companies in Europe is a strong testament to the teaching quality of Oxford.

“The downside is that none of these companies continue to contribute to the Oxford tech cluster, and we must all do more to attract potential founders to remain in the area and engage with our innovation ecosystem.

“Through our work in broadening our offer to Humanities and Social Sciences, our incubator’s increased activity, our partnership with Oxford Sciences Innovation, and more, OUI is continually enhancing the entrepreneurial offer of Oxford University.

“But innovation works best when all parties collaborate, and we all need to pull together to ensure that the next billion-dollar startup founder knows that Oxford is the place to launch and grow their company.”

Ukaire Onyinyechi, a visiting Biochemistry student from Tufts University, Massachusetts, said: “Oxford University doesn’t get enough credit for the fantastic work that it does in supporting technology start-ups creating meaningful change in the world.

“I’d anticipate many more companies being launched over the next few years out of the university perhaps even rivalling the success on this list of top American universities”

Maya Mobbs-Walton, a Law student at Worcester College, told Cherwell: “It’s great to see so many innovative companies coming out the university and it’s a testament to the support of organisations such as Oxford Entrepreneurs and Oxford University Innovation that so many great companies are being founded.”

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