The University of Waterloo is ranked 22nd in the world for universities that produce the most successful entrepreneurs, according to the 2021 PitchBook rankings of top 50 colleges for founders

PitchBook is a financial data and software company whose annual rankings uncover which colleges and universities produce the most successful entrepreneurs. The global rankings are based on undergraduate and MBA programs that have venture capital-backed founders among their alumni. The 2021 rankings take into account companies that have received a first round of venture funding between January 1, 2006 and October 31, 2021. 

President and Vice-Chancellor Vivek Goel says the University of Waterloo is proud to hold this position among so many esteemed colleges and universities around the world. “At Waterloo, entrepreneurship is in our DNA. We are focused on nurturing talent by creating an environment that removes barriers and allows imagination and impact to lead the way,” Goel says. “With our unmatched programs for entrepreneurs, our role in supporting the Toronto-Waterloo Tech Corridor and our focus on nurturing the next generation of talent, Waterloo will continue to be a university that positions founders for success.”  

Waterloo is the highest ranked Canadian university on the PitchBook undergraduate list. Its startup incubators and entrepreneurial support programs include Velocity, Concept and GreenHouse, at Waterloo’s St. Paul’s University College. Waterloo alumni have gone on to become leading entrepreneurs and have founded unicorn companies like FaireApplyBord and Clearco. Velocity, Waterloo’s flagship incubator, has played a key role for influential companies like VidyardEmbark and Brink Bionics. 

“Waterloo’s support for undergraduate and graduate students interested in entrepreneurship and innovation has a multiplier effect on the Canadian economy,” says John Dick, director of Velocity on-campus programs, including Concept, the Problem Lab and Zero Experience. “Many alumni directly cite Waterloo and Velocity’s programs as critical steps to their entrepreneurial success.” 

Dick says Waterloo equips students with the tools and confidence to make an impact in the world through a variety of extracurricular programs and incubators as well as courses in entrepreneurship. “Waterloo produces the largest share of venture-backed startup founders in Canada,” Dick says. “Many alumni use what they have learned to drive meaningful change as business owners and help transform industries by bringing innovative mindsets to established companies.” 

In 2021, Velocity saw alumni and residents collectively surpass $2.4 billion USD in funding, a 40 per cent increase from the end of 2020. Waterloo companies, many who got their start at Velocity, have helped fuel the Toronto-Waterloo startup ecosystem, which was listed as one of the fastest growing ecosystems in the world in the 2021 Global Startup Ecosystem Report. Eight companies founded by Waterloo alumni were recently ranked in the Deloitte 2021 top 50 fastest growing tech companies and Waterloo was ranked most innovative University in Canada in the Macleans 2022 ranking.  

The top three positions on the PitchBook undergraduate top 50 list are held by Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University. Other Canadian universities that made the cut include the University of Toronto, McGill University and University of British Columbia. Other ranking categories from PitchBook include the Top 25 MBA programs, the Top 25 undergrad programs for female founders and the Top 25 MBA programs for female founders. McGill University was the only Canadian university to rank in the other three categories, ranking 16th in a tie with the University of Southern California in the top undergrad programs for female founders.