Naama Barak
August 17, 2023

Tel Aviv University comes in first place outside of the United States when it comes to tech unicorn founders’ alma maters, a recent study shows.

The study, carried out by Stanford University’s Prof. Ilya Strebulaev, shows that his very own workplace has the highest number of unicorn founder alumni, 310.

Tel Aviv University has 43, besting other notable institutions such as University of Oxford (33), IIT Delhi (16) and Seoul National University (6).

According to Prof. Moshe Zviran, TAU’s chief entrepreneurship and innovation officer, the reasons behind this impressive ranking are threefold.

“We have all the disciplines, which enables mixing things up very easily. A startup that’s based all on engineers won’t necessarily succeed, but if you also involve in it people who studied economics or politics, it’s a different story,” he tells ISRAEL12c.

“In recent years, the university’s also been proactive about this. We have a whole entrepreneurial array, from teaching students entrepreneurial principles and management to giving them the opportunity to try their hand at it, with the most successful projects being accelerated by us all the way to profit.”

Another factor is that being located in Tel Aviv makes TAU “the default institution for most of the talent, and that has an impact.”

Tel Aviv University leads in number of unicorn founders
Chart showing Tel Aviv University’s second-place ranking. Screenshot from Twitter

Zviran’s top tip for budding entrepreneurs is not to be scared.

“It’s all about daring. By nature, entrepreneurs take risks. If you have an idea and think it’s good – try it out. If you get funding for it, that means somebody else also thinks it’s good. And when you fail, don’t give up. Because the next initiative or the one after that will get you to the promised land,” he says.

Despite the success, Zviran does sound a note of caution, warning that the political upheaval in Israel is likely to have a negative impact on future Israeli innovation and entrepreneurship.

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