Universities are a hotbed for innovation, as curious minds have the space to think up the next big thing and meet like-minded cofounders. Whether it’s the university spinout scene — that sees companies created by academics commercialising their research — or the group of alumni who decide to found companies after graduating, independent of their alma mater, Europe is awash with entrepreneurial talent.
A new PitchBook ranking has analysed more than 150k founders who graduated from European universities to reveal which university’s alumni have since bagged the most collective cash from VCs.
UK institutions seem to dominate: for funding raised by undergraduate alumni, eight out of the top ten universities are based in the UK, and across the three degree levels analysed (undergraduate, graduate and MBA), 60% of the top 30 spots are occupied by UK-based universities.
To be featured, companies had to have raised their first round between January 1 2013 and September 1 2023 — and total funding data is based on global VC investment raised in that period. Since companies can have more than one founder, and founders can attend multiple schools, it is possible for the same company or founder to count toward multiple universities. University spinouts are also included in the data.
Here are the top 10 institutions whose undergraduate, postgraduate and MBA alumni founders have raised the most cash.
Oxford undergrads bring in the dough
The UK’s University of Oxford comes out on top for the amount of VC cash raised ($8.4bn) in the last decade by undergraduate alumni founders. Notable alumni, according to the PitchBook data, include founder of neobank Monzo, Tom Blomfield, and founder of digital identification company Onfido, Husayn Kassai.
The university is followed by its Oxbridge rival, the University of Cambridge, which runs it a close second, with $8.2bn raised. Alumni founders from the university include AI startup Improbable cofounders, Herman Narula and Rob Whitehead.
Elsewhere at undergraduate level, the UK is represented by the University of London in third place, London School of Economics (LSE) in fourth and University College London in fifth.
In Europe, Copenhagen Business School is in seventh place — undergraduate alumni founders from the school have raised $2.9bn in the last decade. Notable alumni founders from the school include Jeppe Rindom, cofounder and CEO of fintech Pleo, and Meatless Farm’s cofounder Morten Toft Bech. Germany’s Technical University of Munich — known as a key spinout hub in the country — ranks ninth, also with $2.9bn. Notable alumni founders include Oskari Pétas, cofounder of delivery platform Wolt.
The Oxbridge head to head
When it comes to postgraduate alumni, the Oxbridge rivalry continues: the universities of Oxford and Cambridge come in a close first and second respectively, again. London’s Imperial College comes in at third — its postgraduate alumni founders raised around $18bn less than those from Oxford and Cambridge. London is well-represented at postgraduate level too: LSE — which saw Ali Mazanderani, cofounder of business management platform Teya, attend — and the University of London follow with $10.3bn and $5.2bn, respectively.
Europe has more of a presence at this stage compared to undergraduate level: Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology comes in sixth, and France sees two institutions, ESCP Business School and HEC Paris — which boasts both insect-based food startup Ynsect’s cofounder, Jean-Gabriel Levon, and insurtech Tractable’s cofounder, Adrien Cohen, as alumni — take up seventh and eighth, respectively.
Founder of Babylon Health Ali Parsa’s alma mater, University College London, follows up in ninth position with founders bagging $4.6bn and Germany’s Technical University of Munich makes another appearance, in tenth, to round off the list.
What about the MBAs?
For MBA graduates looking to bag some funding, it seems INSEAD is the place to set you up for success — MBA alumni founders from the French business school have raised $23bn over the past decade, miles ahead of the $8.6bn that alumni from second-placed London Business School raised.
The University of Oxford drops down to third for MBA alumni, but still sits ahead of its Cambridge rival, which falls to eighth.
The UK as a whole is less represented at MBA level. Spain’s IE Business School takes fourth, France’s ESSEC Business School takes fifth and Swiss IMD Business School takes sixth. ESADE Business School, also based in Spain and where freight transport startup Paack’s cofounder Fernando Benito Galobart studied, follows up in seventh.
After Cambridge, Henley Management College, which was ranked as Europe’s 35th best business school last year according to the FT’s European Business Schools Ranking last year, saw alumni raise $1.5bn. It includes Clive Mitchell, cofounder of embedded finance startup Railsr, amongst its alumni, and pips HEC Paris to ninth position.