A new report by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) found that so-called ‘third age entrepreneurs’, aged between 50 and 65, were behind 27% of successful UK start-ups between 2001 and 2005.
During this time, more than 350,000 new companies were established, with third age founders at the helm of 93,500, resulting in the creation of almost 400,000 jobs.
The report also suggested that the presence of more experienced entrepreneurs often translated to success for start-ups, with the businesses displaying the most impressive growth co-founded by a team of young and older entrepreneurs.
NESTA argued that older entrepreneurs would be critical to the UK’s future economic growth. By 2025, it is estimated that half the adult population will be aged 50 or over.
Jonathan Kestenbaum, chief executive of NESTA, commented: “At a time when an ageing society is being viewed as a problem, our study shows that there is a wealth of experience driving the UK economy today. Many third age entrepreneurs are setting up exciting new companies which are employing thousands of people.”
According to NESTA, there are 122,300 third-age entrepreneurs in the UK, of which 47,000 are the sole founders of their businesses.
Contrary to the preconception that tech companies are usually started by young people, the report found little difference in the sectors chosen by older and younger founders or their attitudes towards risk.
If anything, third age entrepreneurs were typically less concerned about having their homes repossessed, due to having other sources of income to fall back on, and just half had plans to retire at 65. Older entrepreneurs are also often motivated by the desire to give something back, NESTA added.