Albert Einstein, Andrew Carnegie, Alexander Graham Bell, Nikola Tesla, Joseph Pulitzer, Sergey Brin, Jerry Yang, Steve Chen, Andrew Grove – what do these people have in common?
...they're all immigrants.
Immigrants at the forefront of innovation played a key role in propelling America to greatness with unbridled creativity inspired by their diverse backgrounds which enabled them to engineer out-of-the-box solutions to worldwide problems. In 2012, the Kauffman Foundation of Entrepreneurship published a study
showing that between engineering and technology companies formed between 2006 and 2012, 24.3% of the companies surveyed identified at least one key founder as an immigrant.
If immigrants have enough big ideas to found nearly a quarter of America's tech companies, then why aren't we tapping into that well-spring of innovation to create more jobs and bring new ideas to the table to help restore creativity to the soul of America?
If the flowchart
(right) by Immigration Road
is any indication, immigrating to America is a convoluted and confusing process for the potential immigrant. So much so that it is either too hard to target a potential innovator going through the system, or that innovator simply doesn't have the interest, resources, or time to bother going through the red tape.
However, there doesn't have to be so much red tape for those who want to come to America, utilize her top resources, her network of entrepreneurs, and her infinite opportunity. This is why we at MassChallenge think President Obama's Proposal for Immigration Reform
can help boost the innovation economy, especially the following initiatives:
“Startup Visas” for job-creating entrepreneurs
The United States has one of the most dynamic entrepreneurship communities in the world and we should be doing all we can to support those who want to contribute to that community and make it even better. Startup Visas will attract entrepreneurs from all over the world to come here and accelerate American progress with unique ways of solving problems inspired by their experience working in parts of the world with challenges different than our own.
“Staple” green cards to advanced STEM diplomas
As history shows, a good number of America's top scientists, engineers, and technology experts are immigrants. We need to encourage potential innovators to come learn at America's top schools and advance STEM in the United States, something that we can't let ourselves fall behind in. With a more open path to citizenship, foreign students who would normally be forced to return to their countries of origin can now stay in the United States and use her top resources to further their own careers and advance this country's economy by joining our workforce or even create their own startups.
Ever since America's founding, our big advantage over the competition has been the fact that we are a “melting pot.” We need to continue to add more fuel to that melting pot by bringing in more entrepreneurs from all over the planet. President Obama's Proposal for Immigration Reform can open up new pathways
to connect our entrepreneurs to the world and is a huge step forward in catalyzing a global startup renaissance.