One university, 30,200 startups

Just how much impact can one university have on the global economy. Apparently, quite a bit. A new December 2015 study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reports that MIT’s alumni entrepreneurs generate annual revenues of roughly $1.9 trillion.

Entrepreneurship & Innovation at MIT: Continuing Global Growth and Impact updates earlier studies and shows that MIT alumni are “engaged in entrepreneurship and innovation at ever increasing rates, and at earlier and earlier stages in their lives.”

The report estimates that MIT alumni have launched 30,200 active companies, employing roughly 4.6 million people, and generating roughly $1.9 trillion in annual revenues. That revenue total falls between the world’s ninth-largest GDP, Russia ($2.097 trillion), and the 10th-largest, India ($1.877 trillion), according to 2013 data on those and other countries from the International Monetary Fund.

While data from the Kauffman Foundation indicates that the share of new entrepreneurs between the ages of 20-34 is on the decline in the U.S., the average age of MIT alumni founders is heading in the opposite direction. The MIT report shows the median age of first-time alumni entrepreneurs decreasing steadily over the last eight decades. The age dropped from 39 for alumni who graduated in the 1940s to 30 in the 2000s, with today’s median age for entrepreneurs being 27.

Other key findings include:

  • 25 percent of alumni have founded companies, with more than 40 percent of these labeled as “serial entrepreneurs” (founding two or more companies)
  • 38 percent of early-stage employees eventually launched their own companies
  • 11 percent of alumni who have graduated in the 2010s have already founded companies, compared with 8 percent who founded companies within five years of graduating in the 1990s, and 4 percent in the 1960s
  • 80 percent of alumni-founded companies have survived five or more years, while 70 percent have survived 10 years
  • 31 percent of alumni hold one or more patents

The report was co-authored by Edward Robert, Fiona Murray and J. Daniel Kim of the MIT Sloan School of Management.