Photo Credit: Advornikova
Prof. Ilya Strebulaev, December 31, 2017.

A new study from Stanford University ranks Tel Aviv University first in Israel and first in the world outside the US in the number of unicorns (privately held startup companies valued at over $1 billion) established by its alumni.

According to the study, conducted by entrepreneurship researcher Prof. Ilya Strebulaev from the Stanford Graduate School of Business (this is his post on Linked In), Stanford University is first in the world in the number of unicorns founded by its alumni, and Tel Aviv University is first outside of the US, with 43 unicorns (Oxford in the UK only has 33). The ranking, counting the total number of unicorns regardless of each university’s size, is based on a dataset of 1,100 startups that have raised over $1 billion from venture capital funds in the US.


Moscow-born Ilya A. Strebulaev, 48, is a financial economist, researcher, author, and speaker with expertise in venture capital, startups, and corporate innovation. He has been a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business since 2004. From 2018 to 2022, he was on the board of directors of Yandex, the Russian equivalent of Google.

“Prof. Strebulaev’s findings prove once again that TAU is Israel’s entrepreneurial university, nurturing more startups, and specifically more unicorns, than any other university in the country,” says Prof. Moshe Zviran, Chief Entrepreneurship & Innovation Officer at TAU, and former Dean of the Coller School of Management.

“We have attained this status because we serve as home to the best students in a wide range of disciplines, and also because in recent years, under the leadership and vision of Prof. Ariel Porat, President of TAU, we have become proactive in the entrepreneurship and innovation arenas. We no longer wait for the ‘magic’ to occur. We incorporate entrepreneurship into the curriculum – in the classic disciplines like Computer Science, Engineering, and Management, but also in the Departments of Humanities, Social Sciences, Law, and the Arts. In fact, most of the students at TAU can now include an entrepreneurship cluster as an integral part of their studies for a degree, thereby acquiring tools for establishing their own startups, which in the future may become unicorns,” Zviran said.

Prof. Strebulaev’s new index joins a long series of entrepreneurship rankings, all of which rank TAU as the leader in producing entrepreneurs outside the USA. Thus, for example, in 2022, Pitchbook ranked TAU 7th in the world and 1st outside the USA in the number of venture-capital-backed startups founded by alumni. Startup Genome also ranked TAU among the leading universities, right after Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and Berkley, and 1st outside the USA.

“There are many entrepreneurship rankings, each based on different parameters,” explains Prof. Zviran. “All, however, indicate that TAU is the best entrepreneurship incubator in the world outside the USA. We made a strategic decision to position TAU as Israel’s main entrepreneurial university, and proactively buttress our technological and business advantage as a means for producing startups and unicorns. If so far these achievements have been based solely on the outstanding quality of our faculty, students, and curriculum, the focused activities of our Entrepreneurship & Innovation Ecosystem are expected to bring even greater accomplishments.”

Before you examine Prof. Strebulaev’s list, you should keep in mind that according to Pitchbook’s 2022 study, there are at least 100 US schools with far better scores, the least of which, in 110th place, is the University of California, Santa Cruz with “only” 143 unicorns that raised “only” $4.8 billion. The Strebulaev study does not say how much more than $1 billion the TAU unicorns raised.

Ilya Strebulaev’s Post / Screenshot

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