Innovation = Job Creation, it's a simple equation.
Thom Ruhe, Director of Entrepreneurship, The Kauffman Foundation
We are currently narrowing a field of 30 applicants for 12 available Postdoctoral Researcher/Entrepreneurship Fellowships. The basic premise is that we are selecting a dozen incredibly bright folks from science, technology, engineering and medical fields, and we are going to help them accelerate their particular technology of interest into commercial application – technology commercialization as it is known. On a side but related note, we have also partnered with the National Postdoctoral Association to sponsor the Kauffman Foundation Outstanding Postdoctoral Entrepreneur Award and the Emerging Postdoctoral Entrepreneur Award.
As I had the pleasure of being among those interviewing these incredibly bright individuals, a few things became quite obvious. First, and probably most significantly of any other general characteristic I gleaned, was the high percentage of immigrants. And they came from all over the world – India, Iran, Italy, Finland, Germany, and Scotland just to name a few from my group of interviewees. As it turns out, around 75% of the total field were immigrants. Keeping in mind that applications were from US-based schools, I found this to be astonishing.
Obviously that speaks well of our schools that there is such demand, but it also speaks to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in this country as most of these individuals see their best path to commercializing their technology is in the U.S. That is not to say, however, that there isn’t much more that we could and should be doing to encourage even more activity, but that is a subject for another post.
Another interesting observation was how many of these immigrant scholar entrepreneurs are already well along their way to building companies – several of which already employing others. And rest assured that with the innovations they were promoting in the fields of therapeutics, medical devices, environmental controls, etc., we aren’t talking minimum wage, dead-end jobs.
I know that immigration is touchy subject, and we have certainly published our share of research on this space; but the undeniable fact is that commercializing innovation leads to job creation, which restores the health of our economy. Those that would push out or prevent this source of growth to our economy would be cutting off their xenophobic nose to spite their face. If I had my way, we would staple a green card to each and every diploma from anyone graduating in any of these promising fields.
After all, they may very well bring the innovation to the market that saves your life some day. And if that day should come, I doubt that you will be overly concerned if it were invented with an Asian, European, or Middle Eastern accent.
As always, I am happy to hear supporting and opposing views – that’s what the comment button below is for.
- - - Update 8/10/09 - - -
Want another example of innovation + entrepreneurship + immigration = very good things for our economy? Check out the immigrant battery story.
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