Sunstone Management Expands its Investment in University Partnerships: How Universities are the Foundation of the Startup Economy

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Last week, Sunstone Management announced the launch of our most recent investment in early-stage entrepreneurs with Sunstone University, a monthly education series hosted at our conference center in Irvine, CA that brings university-based startup Founders together to share resources and support one another.  But this is just one of many recent investments in the university-based startup community.  Sunstone Management has emerged as a Statewide leader among early-stage venture capital firms in supporting university-based entrepreneurship, particularly among our publicly-funded universities, through programs like the Stella Zhang New Venture Competition at UCISunstone CSU Startup Launch CompetitionSunstone Innovation Challenge at CSULB, and Born in California.

Universities Create an Economic Advantage

So, why does Sunstone Management think that university partnerships are so important of the startup economy?  Investments in high-quality universities create several economic advantages for investors beginning with Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  In 2021, the following five states recorded the highest GDP per capita:

  1. Washington D.C. ($226K)
  2. New York ($93K)
  3. Massachusetts ($91K)
  4. Washington ($86K)
  5. California ($85K)

Not surprisingly, nearly the same list of high economic performers also contributed the highest level of Research & Development Investment per capita, often through their universities—both public and private—and often funded by federal and state government grant programs:

  1. Washington D.C. ($5.1K)
  2. Massachusetts ($4.2K)
  3. Maryland ($3.6K)
  4. California ($3.4K)
  5. Washington ($3.2K)

Universities are Great for Venture Capital

Universities also contribute to venture capital investment in a major way.  As I mentioned in one of my previous blogs “Sunstone Management Expands Accelerator Partnerships Nationwide”, the top universities in the world are also located in the worlds top targets of venture capital investments, and for good reason.  according to the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), NVCA 2021 Yearbook, the top 5 states for venture capital investment as measured by total Assets Under Management include:

  1. California ($550M)
  2. New York ($149M)
  3. Massachusetts ($120M)
  4. Illinois ($28M)
  5. Washington ($19M)

What is so striking about these high performers is that they also boast some of the best universities in the world.  In 2022, the U.S. News and World Reports released its “Best Global Universities Rankings”, with 12 of the top 22 universities in the world located in these same 5 states!

  1. Harvard University, MA
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), MA
  3. Stanford University, CA
  4. University of California Berkeley, CA
  5. Columbia University, NY
  6. University of Washington, WA
  7. California Institute of Technology (CalTech), CA
  8. University of California San Francisco, CA
  9. University of California Los Angeles, CA
  10. University of Chicago, IL
  11. University of California San Diego, CA
  12. Cornell University, NY

In short, universities—which attract talent and resources for research and development—are great for venture capital investors and for economic development (as measured by GDP).

Public-Private-Education Partnerships will Shape the Future

At Sunstone Management, we are Founder-Focused, and we believe that our great universities will continue to attract best young talent in the world.  This is why we continue to invest both capital as well as technical assistance in our university partnerships to help our early-stage entrepreneurs—our Founders—create great businesses and job opportunities for their communities.   By connecting university-based entrepreneurs with the resources they need, we are now increasing the opportunity for diverse and meaningful connections that can help make the American Dream more accessible to everyone.

More About Sunstone Management

Sunstone University is a monthly educational series hosted by Sunstone Management for university startups, entrepreneurs, and community builders. Sunstone Management is a Founder-First early-stage venture capital investment firm located in Southern California dedicated to building great companies through creative public-private-education partnerships.

If you believe in a similar investment philosophy, we encourage you to join the Sunstone Community today.  We are always seeking great investors, entrepreneurs, and staff to advance our vision for the economy and the world around us.  You can visit our website at for more information or follow us on social media for upcoming events and announcements at LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

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