A commitment to innovation powered the University of Washington to a No. 7 ranking for graduate entrepreneurship programs by The Princeton Review. The 2021 ranking marks an all-time high — solidifying UW and the Foster School of Business as a leader in entrepreneurial education and incubation within the Pac-12 and across the Western United States.
The Princeton Review considers responses to a 60+ question survey sent to more than 300 undergraduate and graduate schools offering entrepreneurship studies. The survey looks at the opportunities for aspiring student entrepreneurs both inside and outside the classroom including the quality and quantity of courses, faculty and mentors available.
“We are a world-class innovative community built on the impactful work and collaboration of the Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, our faculty and partners like UW CoMotion across the UW,” said Frank Hodge, Orin and Janet Smith dean of the Foster School. “The insights we foster together will better humanity and propel us forward for a better tomorrow.”
UW and the Foster School also rose seven spots to No. 21 overall for undergraduate entrepreneurship programs. The 40+ survey data points in the ranking methodology include the number of startups founded by recent alumni. Over the past ten years, graduate alumni have launched more than 540 ventures independent of the school and brought in over $270 million in fundraising and investment. During the same timeframe, undergraduate alumni launched more than 468 independent ventures and raised over $85 million.
During the past five years, UW CoMotion executed more than 1,950 licenses and spun out 73 startups which have gone on to raise over $4.4B in funding. Today, UW spinoffs employ more than 4,000 people in the state of Washington.
“UW is consistently ranked as the most innovative public university, and with some of the most creative faculty and students in the world, innovation is truly part of our DNA,” said François Baneyx, UW vice provost for innovation and director of CoMotion. “We are thrilled to help these scientists transform their ideas into economic and societal impact that makes a difference at the global scale.”
UW education and programming work in symbiosis with one of the top startup ecosystems in the world. In FY 2018, the university drove $15.7 billion in economic activity for the state. In late January, UW created an Innovation Roundtable featuring leading venture capitalists, angel investors and innovative leaders. UW also launched a new Innovation Imperative website focused on both the on-campus and regional entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The Foster School’s Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship and UW CoMotion operate as hubs for community, faculty and student collaboration — working with colleges and department across the UW-Seattle, Tacoma and Bothell campuses (as well as the Global Innovation Exchange which operates in partnership with China’s Tsinghua University and Microsoft) to connect students to major VC firms, angel investing groups and entrepreneurs in every industry in the region.
The Buerk Center hosts three student innovation and startup competitions open to colleges and universities across the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia and Alaska — as well as the non-academic Jones + Foster Accelerator program. Since 2010, more than 85% of those who received seed funding from the Accelerator are still in business today.
“Our commitment to empowering students to create impactful ventures has never been stronger,” said Amy Sallin, director of the Buerk Center. “We believe in creating academic and extracurricular experiences with both depth and breadth while also supporting dedicated initiatives to diversity, equity and inclusion. Together, UW’s students, faculty and community partners are building a model for growth that rivals any in the world.”
The Foster School features the Undergraduate Young Executives of Color Program (YEOC), a six-week end of summer Business Bridge program, as well as a women’s Leadership Summit. In 2020, UW’s signature Dempsey Startup Competition had female students as founders or cofounders on 37% of the 97 teams that competed.
Entrepreneurship students are also given the access and opportunity to participate in programs in partnership with global leaders such as Amazon Catalyst, CoMotion Labs, the Institute for Protein Design, the Clean Energy Institute, as well as fellowships in technology commercialization and social entrepreneurship.
In the past two years, UW also partnered to create the Washington Maritime Accelerator, the BECU FinTech Incubator at CoMotion, the UW EarthLab and the WE-REACH Biomedical Entrepreneurship Center among others.
The Princeton Review rankings are available online and will also be published in the December issue of Entrepreneur Magazine.