By Claire West

New research conducted by specialist small business insurer Hiscox, shows that students put personal skills ahead of academic achievement when ranking predictors of entrepreneurial success.

Only 1% of graduates believe that qualifications are the most important factor when thinking about setting up a business. Instead they rate creative thinking (40%), the ability to network (38%) and risk-taking (28%) as the key attributes of successful entrepreneurs.

The research also showed that this year’s graduates admire businesspeople that display these qualities, with Sir Richard Branson (24%) and Lord Alan Sugar (20%) being rated as the most inspirational entrepreneurs globally.

Graduates also expressed admiration for young entrepreneurs, with four in five (82%) saying young people had founded some of the best companies.

According to the study, IT and computing students are most likely to become entrepreneurs (38%), followed by business management students (27%). It also showed that those studying core subjects, such as maths (20%) and science (15%), are less likely to go into running their own business.

London students topped the list as the most likely to set up their own company, with four in ten of them already in business whilst at university, or in the process of setting up their new venture. Other cities nurturing entrepreneurial students include Hull (36%), Glasgow (32%) and Cardiff (22%).

John Heaney, SME expert at Hiscox, said: “The research shows an interesting perspective on the business world from the UK’s next generation of entrepreneurs. The students are right to recognise the importance of skills like creativity and networking for business success. Together with the knowledge gained from studying and on the job experience, they are invaluable to aspiring entrepreneurs.

“It’s clear that the cities surveyed are full of enterprising students optimistic about their future careers in business, which is great for the future of UK entrepreneurship.”