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Sixteen Percent Of High-Impact, High-Tech Firms Founded By Immigrant Entrepreneurs

July 16, 2009

Sixteen percent of high-impact, high-tech firms have at least one immigrant founder, according to a study released today by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration.  Although these firms are concentrated in states with large immigrant populations, in most other respects they resemble high-impact, high-tech firms founded by native-born entrepreneurs.

Moreover, these immigrant entrepreneurs are highly educated and appear to be strongly rooted in the United States.  Roughly 55 percent of the foreign- born founders hold a masters degree or a doctorate.  In addition, they are more than twice as likely as native-born founders to hold a doctorate.  Furthermore, 77 percent of the foreign-born high-tech entrepreneurs are American citizens and, on average, they have lived over 25 years in the United States.  Two-thirds of them received their college degrees here, as well.

“Immigrant entrepreneurs clearly contribute a significant amount to our country’s cutting edge high-tech firms,” said Shawne McGibbon, acting Chief Counsel for Advocacy.  “This report outlines these contributions and delivers important new data about immigrant entrepreneurs.”

High-tech Immigrant Entrepreneurship in the United States, written by David Hart, Zoltan Acs, and Spencer Tracy, Jr. with funding from Advocacy, defines high- impact firms as those with sales that have at least doubled over the 2002-2006 period and which have significant employment growth during that time. The authors defined high-tech industries using research and development employment as a share of total employment as the key criterion.

For a complete copy of the report, visit

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