The level of education attained by founders across the startup sector may influence the type of new ventures hitting the market, according to a new report released by Startup Muster and Universities Australia.
According to Startup Smarts: Universities and the Startup Economy, retail is the “top destination” for founders with high school as their highest level of education, while startup founders with a PhD are more likely to be found building ventures in “medtech, healthtech or biotech”.
“With all these industries, it’s so dispersed in terms of what you can actually do,” Startup Muster chief executive Monica Wulff tells StartupSmart.
Wulff notes that while many of the entrepreneurs she spoke to may not have engaged in a specialist startup program at university, they did benefit from the “wealth of connections” their education brought.
The report is based on 685 verified startups founders in Australia who participated in a survey conducted by Startup Muster between July 4 and August 15, 2016.
“Education startups are also among the top three industries for founders with a bachelor degree and graduate diploma,” the report states.
“For founders with a vocational education, the fitness or wellness industries had strongest appeal.
“Fintech and content or media were popular industries irrespective of the level of educational attainment.”
Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said the report, which also outlines more than 70 different startup programs offered by Australian universities, highlights the crucial role tertiary education institutions play in strengthening the burgeoning startup 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,” Robinson said in a statement.
Of the founders Startup Muster surveyed, more than 80% hold a university qualification and the top skills of founding teams reflect the professional level of education attained:
“These include software development (64 percent), business (61 percent), marketing (37 percent), scientific research (13 percent), engineering (14 percent) and legal skills (11 percent).”
The study also shows that female startup founders are more likely to have university qualification than their male counterparts, and nearly 30% of founders attended university overseas.
“This is not surprising—given that 67 percent of startup founders were born in Australia, while the remaining 33 percent were born overseas,” the report states.
“Eighty-nine percent of female founders—nearly nine in ten—have a degree, compared with 83 percent of male founders.”
The report also discussed how Australian universities today now understand a growing need to prepare school leavers and upcoming graduates for a life where the average person will walk through 17 different jobs and switch through five careers. It also draws on survey from the University of Technology Sydney that found 40% of its students and recent alumni are considering or have already founded a startup.
Wulff says there has been a “massive increase” in recent years of universities and higher education institutions delivering startup and entrepreneurial-focused courses, initiatives and even spaces to drive innovative collaboration and economic growth.
“It’s about the idea of having startups actually on campus,” she says.
“We can get really creative with it.”