Graduate entrepreneurs will be important for meeting the Government’s growth plans, new analysis has found.

A new report, published by the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) using data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, reveals the importance of graduate entrepreneurs to local economic growth, with more than three quarters (78%) of them embarking on entrepreneurship activities in the English region or devolved nation where they were originally domiciled. Similarly, over half (58%) of graduate entrepreneurs undertook their entrepreneurial activities in the area where they studied, with just 11% choosing to move to another area entirely.

Other headlines include:

  • A significant proportion of graduate entrepreneurs report activities in sectors that are heavily reliant on knowledge-intensive services and in industries with moderate or high R&D investment activity.
  • Graduates facing structural inequality are proportionally more likely to be graduate entrepreneurs. Specifically, Black graduates and graduates with a known disability have higher entrepreneurial rates. The reasons for this are unclear and require further research.
  • Mature students appear to be more likely to undertake entrepreneurial activities after graduating, with entrepreneurship rates highest for graduates over 30 years of age.

Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of the NCUB, said: “The new government’s priority of maximising economic growth will require a diverse cohort of confident and skilled graduate entrepreneurs, creating new opportunities and ventures across all parts of the UK.

“The insight report NCUB has published today shows that a significant majority of graduate entrepreneurs ‘stay local’ – either in their hometown or where they studied. This suggests that policymakers and universities should be thinking about graduate entrepreneurs as important features of the local enterprise landscape who, if properly supported, could have a significant impact on local growth.

“Beyond the headline insights set out in this report, there is a clear opportunity for further examination of the complex relationships between degree courses, university enterprise policies and support for students, and the range of other factors that affect graduates’ choices to explore different career types. There are exciting questions for universities about the role they can play in inspiring students to pursue entrepreneurship, and then in helping to create the right environments for graduate enterprise to flourish.

“Likewise, this analysis shows that graduate entrepreneurs could play an even bigger role in driving local economic growth, supporting Levelling Up across the UK, so there is an opportunity for the UK government, Devolved Administrations and local authorities to consider what tools and levers they have that can help to realise that potential.”

To read a summary infographic of the key findings, click here.