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UAL graduate entrepreneurs spearheading multi-million pound start-up revolution boosting UK economy

Grey cushions and fabric
Grey cushions and fabric
Anneka Textiles: Cathryn Hall MA Textile Design, Chelsea College of Arts, graduated in 2016
Written by
Anna Tsekouras
Published date
13 November 2019

UAL graduate entrepreneurs are leading a start-up and social enterprise boom which saw more than £822 million generated for the UK economy in 2018 – more than online fashion retail giant BooHoo Group.

The Evening Standard covered the story, demonstrating that former UAL students launched 240 start-ups in 2017/18, the second-highest number from all UK universities behind only Royal College of Arts, according to a report, compiled by sales recruitment specialist Pareto Law using data from Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). 2018 graduate start-ups and social enterprises employed 25,000 people and generated £822 million in turnover.

The estimated total turnover of nearly 14,000 graduate start-ups was more than BooHoo (£802 million) and HelloFresh (£603 million), highlighting the significant contribution that student creative entrepreneurs make to the wider UK economy.

Data provided by HESA shows that when it comes to the number of companies set-up per university, institutions that have an artistic or more vocational focus take a more active role in equipping graduates with the skills, confidence and support to set-up their own companies.

The top five universities are all known for their creative courses (Royal College of Arts, UAL, Kingston University, University of Central Lancashire and Falmouth University) and they eclipsed figures from Russell Group universities such as the University of Oxford (34) and University of Cambridge (11).

UAL a leader in enterprise education

The UK-wide figures reflect our own UAL data which shows that in 2018/19 the Careers & Employability team had more than 10,000 interactions with students and recent graduates.

This also follows the launch in 2017 of Not just a shop, which in two years has sold over £270,000 worth of products by 132 artists and designers – all UAL students and alumni.

An impressive £189,000 has been paid out to students and alumni businesses through these sales.

Partners for UAL’s Enterprise Programme & Awards include: Google Campus for Start-ups, The Dots, D&AD, Tate, It’s Nice That, DACS, Cockpit Arts, Supa Network, The Design Trust and London Design Festival, amongst others.