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Almost 60% of British university start-ups founded by international graduates: report

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Latest research indicates the breadth of opportunity in the UK for students from larger countries such as China and India. Source: Shutterstock

Fifty-seven percent of British university startups are founded by international graduates, according to new research by venture capital firm Creator Fund. This highlights the mutual benefit of welcoming students from other countries to study in the UK. Immigrants can study and start rewarding careers abroad, which in turn stimulates education and entrepreneurship sectors in the UK.

Attracting students from around the globe is therefore key to driving innovation in the UK. Additionally, the finding reaffirms the UK government’s introduction of the Graduate Immigration Route. Anyone completing a degree from summer 2021 onwards can stay in the UK for up to two years after graduation — three if it’s a PhD course.

British university

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the stand of “Small Robot Company” in the Innovation Zone at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London on January 20, 2020. This startup re-imagines the way technology is used in agriculture and farming. Source: Leon Neal/Pool/AFP

Graduates can stay in the UK as long as they enter by April 6, 2021, and complete their final semester in the country. They can switch to a skilled work visa after their graduate visa expires if they have a job that meets the skill requirements of this route. Since graduates are free to pursue any type of work, many more will be looking to start their own businesses in the UK in the future.

The report explains: “In the last 12 months, our team has seen over 800 startups from 94 different universities. We have found that COVID-19 has not slowed university startup activity down. Instead, founders have used the extra time on their hands to move their ideas forward.”

British university startups speak for opportunity and diversity

Creator Fund carried out the research on 545 of its startups. Spread across the UK, these startups are also more ethnically diverse than newer ventures. This speaks to the breadth of opportunity for students from larger countries such as China and India.

James Macfarlane, founder and CEO of Creator Fund commented, “Our view is that there is no better place to start a business than university because you have access to talent, which is usually hard to get. You have the time to develop ideas and you have access to experts among the teaching staff. Students are also often at a time in their lives where they are having big ideas and are willing to take risks.”

The report further highlighted that many of these founders come from minority groups. Almost half of the founders were black, Asian, or of another minority ethnicity, while 40% were female. Shawn Du, a Creator Fund-backed Chinese founder, said: “I came here to Imperial to study because I wanted to start a company and thought the UK had the best talent for building my team.” As the report states, “Perhaps, the very act of travelling across the world to study shows an appetite for risk necessary to be a founder.”

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