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Cover of the IT Founders 2005 survey results.

A copy of the IT Founders 2005 survey findings is available for free online at the U's Institute of Technology Web site.

IT alums spur Minnesota economy

From eNews, May 5, 2005

When you invest in the U's Institute of Technology (IT), will that investment yield a return for you and the state of Minnesota? It will, according to recently released findings from the IT Founders 2005 survey.

The survey shows that there are approximately 4,150 IT alumni-founded companies that are active around the world today, and roughly 2,600 operate in Minnesota. Worldwide, the companies generate $90 billion in annual revenue and employ more than half a million people. In Minnesota alone, these businesses generate about $46 billion in income a year and provide jobs for more than 175,000 people.

"The survey turned up twice as many companies as we had expected, and their economic impact is just amazing," says Mostafa Kaveh, IT associate dean for research and planning. "And those are just the companies we know about."

IT graduates have founded companies that span many industries, including manufacturing, biotechnology, communications, software, electronics, and engineering. They have also branched out into health care and hospitality. Many of those surveyed alumni reported that they gained experience early in their careers at companies founded by other IT alumni. Control Data and Medtronic served as the training ground for the founders of some 36 companies.

IT and Minnesota companies

On April 10, the Star Tribune released its 2005 list of the 100 largest public companies in Minnesota, and 19 were founded by IT alumni. These include ADC Telecommunications, Ceridian, Datalink Corp., Medtronic, Pentair, and RTW Inc.

IT surveyed nearly 48,000 alumni and received 15,000 responses last fall. The poll, sponsored by the Mr. and Mrs. George W. Taylor Foundation, builds on a survey the college conducted in the early 1990s. Rapid advancements in information technology and an explosion of entrepreneurial activity in the decade after the first survey prompted the college to poll its alumni again about their accomplishments, says David Hoffman, project coordinator and IT development officer.

Hoffman says the goal of the first survey, IT 1000 and Beyond, and the recent survey was to show that investment in IT--whether through state funding or private contributions--produces a tremendous return. "I'm not sure if anyone else [at another university] has tried to measure this [type of alumni achievement]," says Hoffman. "We were more interested in making the case for the value of the U of M and IT to Minnesota than we were in comparing IT to other institutions."

For a copy of the IT Founders 2005 survey results, you can download a PDF version from the IT Web site at www.it.umn.edu.

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