Immigrant Founders Report Cover

Data Brief

Most of America’s “Most Promising” AI Startups Have Immigrant Founders

Tina Huang

Zachary Arnold

Remco Zwetsloot

October 2020

Half of Silicon Valley’s startups have at least one foreign-born founder, and immigrants are twice as likely as native-born Americans to start new businesses. To understand how immigration shapes AI entrepreneurship in particular in the United States, Huang, Arnold and Zwetsloot analyze the 2019 AI 50, Forbes’s list of the “most promising” U.S.-based AI startups. They find that 66 percent of these startups had at least one immigrant founder. The authors write that policymakers should consider lifting some current immigration restrictions and creating new pathways for entrepreneurs.

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