Skip to Content

From the President: 30,000 Alumni Companies

“MIT Nation” is equivalent to world’s 10th-largest economy.

February 23, 2016

The entrepreneurial energy that moves new ideas from the Institute’s labs to the marketplace has always been a defining feature of the MIT community. Now, thanks to Professor Edward Roberts, ’57, SM ’57, SM ’60, PhD ’62, Associate Dean for Innovation Fiona Murray, and graduate student J. Daniel Kim, we have a fresh picture of its impact on the world.

Based on their latest research, Roberts, Murray, and Kim estimate that as of 2014, living MIT alumni have launched more than 30,000 active companies, or nearly one company for every four living MIT graduates. These companies provide jobs for 4.6 million people. And with roughly $1.9 trillion in annual revenue, this “MIT Nation” is equivalent to the 10th-largest economy in the world—right between Russia and India.

The rate of company formation is increasing, too—from a total of 9,000 alumni firms founded in the 1990s to 12,000 in the first decade of this century to a predicted 18,000 by the end of this decade, given the current pace. Even students not ready to be founders themselves are now far more likely to seek out the startup life. In 2006, only 2 percent of MIT undergraduates looked for work after graduation with a VC-backed startup. By 2014, that figure jumped to 14 percent.

MIT president L. Rafael Reif

By far the greatest concentrations of MIT alumni firms are in Massachusetts (31 percent) and California (21 percent); perhaps it is no coincidence that in a recent Bloomberg assessment of the “most innovative states” in the nation, Massachusetts and California also came in first and second, respectively.

Bloomberg based its assessment on six measures: R&D intensity, productivity, high-tech density, concentration of STEM employment, science and engineering degree holders, and patent activity. Yet there is another factor, harder to measure, whose impact is equally real: the sheer creative intensity we feel in the MIT ecosystem every day. That energy is a powerful attraction. This winter, when General Electric announced that its headquarters would move to Boston, chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt explained that GE “is leading the digital transformation of industry.” He added, “We want to be at the center of an ecosystem that shares our aspirations.” To which we say, welcome aboard!

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build

“I have suddenly switched my views on whether these things are going to be more intelligent than us.”

Meet the people who use Notion to plan their whole lives

The workplace tool’s appeal extends far beyond organizing work projects. Many users find it’s just as useful for managing their free time.

Learning to code isn’t enough

Historically, learn-to-code efforts have provided opportunities for the few, but new efforts are aiming to be inclusive.

Deep learning pioneer Geoffrey Hinton has quit Google

Hinton will be speaking at EmTech Digital on Wednesday.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.