Move fast & break things: The benefits of studying in a startup city

Studying in a startup city can benefit master’s students looking for a dynamic learning experience. Let’s explore these perks and how universities and startups mutually profit.

In short

The top startup cities in the world

Studying in a startup city might not seem like the most obvious consideration for a prospective master’s student. However, even if you’re not pursuing an entrepreneurial career, studying in a startup city certainly has its perks.

According to the Startup Genome’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2022North America remains the top region startup cities, like Silicon Valley, New York City, San Diego, and Boston. Meanwhile, Europe is close behind, with London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Berlin leading the way.  

Startup cities like those above attract capital, innovation, knowledge production, and top talent. The ecosystem surrounding startups can have an immensely positive effect on local economies by creating jobs, attracting larger companies, developing advanced technologies, and increasing visibility on the global stage. But what benefits does this bring to master’s students (and graduates)?

Build connections & knowledge by studying in a startup city

Home to fast-growing companies, startup cities worldwide are dynamic ecosystems buzzing with cutting-edge knowledge and research, industry experts, and connections just waiting to be made. Doing a master’s program in a startup city gives students unique access to all of this. 

Baris Efe, Manager & Co-Founder of Vali Berlin, the entrepreneurship hub at ESMT Berlin, tells us, “As a student myself, I always wanted to connect to the startup ecosystem… It’s important to always have the connection to what’s going on actually in the world and the ecosystem, especially when you have the startup ecosystem in Berlin in front of your door.” (07:14)

Universities and business schools in startup cities, like Berlin and Boston, are uniquely positioned to offer experiences and resources like startup visits, incubator programs, and guest lectures from industry to their students.

For example, London Business School’s Institute of Entrepreneurship and Private Capital hosts an event series, the Entrepreneur’s Journey, where experienced entrepreneurs share their stories with students. Past speakers include Rosie Bailey, Co-Founder & CEO of Nibble, David Farquharson, Founder of London Law Collective, and Rachel Bell, Founder of Brand Spanking Consulting. Such events create networking opportunities connecting students to potential future employers or business partners.

Startup careers & the rise of student entrepreneurship

One of the main reasons prospective master’s students consider studying in a startup city is the wealth of exciting job opportunities.

Amsterdam, home of MASTERGRADSCHOOLS and one of the top startup cities in Europe, hosts foreign and local startups responsible for over 70,000 jobs. According to the 2022 Amsterdam Startup Employment Report, the fintech sector is the largest startup employer, with companies like Adyen, Mollie, and bunq, while foodtech and energy companies are on the rise. Startups can especially appeal to fresh grads because of their unique working cultures characterized by flat hierarchies, creative environments, and fast career progression rates.

Studying in a startup city should also be attractive to the growing number of master’s students who would rather create jobs than find one. A study by Harvard Business School found that around 5% of university alumni start a new business within one year of graduation. Meanwhile, some students aren’t waiting for their diplomas to get started.

Baris himself is an excellent example of student entrepreneurship. “I founded Vali as a student initiative, and after my studies, I basically decided together with ESMT to institutionalize Vali and build it as a full-time employee,” he shares. (00:33)

Berlin’s relatively low cost of living, strong culture of innovation, and supportive government make it particularly attractive to young entrepreneurs. Like Baris, who made Vali a hotspot for entrepreneurship at ESMT. Berlin’s position as the number one region in Germany for startup investment has led to the rapid rise of new local ventures. The potential for entrepreneurial students to quickly find success may explain efforts to modernize teaching methods. Universities are moving beyond the traditional classroom to more innovative learning experiences, from innovation labs to virtual classrooms to entrepreneurship hubs.

A symbiotic relationship: How startups benefit from universities

It’s not just cities and their universities that have something to gain in the relationship, but the startups themselves also benefit from their proximity to higher education institutions. 

As centers of expertise and talent, universities can connect startups with aspiring entrepreneurs, innovators, subject-matter experts, and researchers. Startups can also tap into universities’ vast range of knowledge, aiding them in venture creation, growth, and learning. Students, like those pursuing the Master in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, can also drive research projects based on their university’s intellectual property (IP), which could turn into actual products that go to market.

In short, universities and startups have a mutually beneficial relationship based on learning, knowledge production, innovation, and talent circulation. Thus, studying in a startup city could be life-changing for master’s students looking for an exciting, fast-paced experience with career opportunities galore.

Curious about what it’s like to study in a startup city? Reach out directly to a current or past student in the city you’re interested in to find out!

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