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HomeWorldUnicorn Nursery: Outside the U.S., India’s IIT Produces the Most Billion-Dollar Startup Founders

Unicorn Nursery: Outside the U.S., India’s IIT Produces the Most Billion-Dollar Startup Founders

Indian Institutes of Technology were ranked fourth for educating students who went on to create billion-dollars startups, a report by Sage, a U.K-based accounting software firm said this week.

Stanford University was the source of the largest number of unicorn founders, followed by Harvard University and the University of California.

So what is the secret at the IITs? An impossibly competitive entrance exam that weeds out all but the most brilliant and hard-working students, some say. Out of 130,000 people that take the IIT entrance exam every year, only around 10,000 are accepted.

The elite network of engineering schools has nurtured some of the biggest names in tech, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai to the co-founders of Flipkart, India’s answer to Amazon.

According to the Sage report, 12 out of 189 founders of billion-dollar startups, known as unicorns, went to one of India’s 23 IITs.

An IIT student learns a “multiplicity of skills, applied knowledge, converting theory into practice, how to solve complex problems by breaking them down into smaller problems, highly transferable skills,” said Professor Ravi Sinha, dean of alumni and corporate relations at IIT Bombay.

Those skills allow many IIT graduates to pass on high-paying corporate jobs and to work at startups, he said.

Last year, India topped a global ranking of 21 countries as the source of the most immigrant founders of billion-dollar startups in the United States, a National Foundation for American Policy report said.

In 2016, fourteen people of Indian origin ran unicorn startups in the U.S., putting the South Asian nation top of the list followed by Canada and the U.K., which contributed eight entrepreneurs each, the report said.

Despite the success of their graduates in the business world, IITs rarely make it into the top of global university rankings, even when compared to other emerging market institutions. In the Times Higher Education BRICS & Emerging Economies University Rankings of 2017, for example Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, was 26th.

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(via WSJ)