A Unique Public-Private Partnership, GEIR Program Will Add 20 New Entrepreneurs, Housed at UMass Boston

On Thursday, the Massachusetts Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence (GEIR) program announced a major gift from Goodwin Procter LLP, its second corporate partner. The program, which is based at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Venture Development Center, will also expand from 10 to 20 participating entrepreneurs this year.

Goodwin Procter joins Silicon Valley Bank in sponsoring the GEIR program.

According to William Brah, founder and executive director of the Venture Development Center, partnering with Goodwin Procter is a major validation for the GEIR program, an innovative approach to retaining entrepreneurial talent in the state.

Goodwin Procter’s donation will help UMass Boston continue to support these global entrepreneurs, who will have a unique joint appointment at the school — serving as university employees who mentor student startups in addition to running their own companies. Additionally, the GEIR program helps company founders and other early employees navigate the H-1B visa process.

“We believe that a global experience is an important part of our students’ education,” said UMass Boston Chancellor J. Keith Motley. “The donation from Goodwin Procter not only boosts job creation here in Massachusetts but prepares our entrepreneurial students for global success.”

The GEIR program was initially conceived by venture capitalist and Harvard Business School professor Jeff Bussgang and formed as a public-private partnership by Governors Deval Patrick and Charlie Baker, working with members of the innovation community and the Massachusetts Tech Collaborative under Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash.

Both Brah and Bussgang said that they hope that Goodwin Procter’s leadership gift will encourage other corporate entities to participate in helping scale the program.

“This is a great partnership between the public and private sectors to help smooth the path to visas for entrepreneurs,” said Bussgang, a general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners. “It completes the vision of Massachusetts as a talent magnet and global innovation hub.  The program participants would not be in Massachusetts today if it wasn’t for the Global EIR program. They would have started their companies elsewhere or not at all.”

Goodwin Procter has one of the largest tech practices in the United States. They actively represent over 1,000 technology-based companies, many of whom they’ve worked with from conception to IPO and beyond.

“Goodwin is a proud supporter of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and we have seen that one-third of the entrepreneurs starting privately held venture-backed companies are foreign-born,” said David Cappillo, a partner in Goodwin Procter’s Technology Companies Practice. “We aim to help increase the probability of our clients’ success and remove barriers to innovation and business growth. Through the great work of the Venture Development Center, we believe the GEIR program gives a significant boost to young companies and entrepreneurs, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”

Thirteen entrepreneurs have already applied in 2016, graduates of universities including Carnegie Mellon, Harvard, Stanford, and MIT who are launching their ventures in Boston.

They will join 10 entrepreneurs from the 2015 program growing companies in Massachusetts. The total venture capital raised by their companies is $49.9 million. The companies have a headcount of 137 employees.

“We are thrilled with the way Gov. Baker’s administration and the private sector has embraced the program. It shows that they are prioritizing talent and the innovation community as part of a larger economic development strategy,” Bussgang said.

“Public-private partnerships are key drivers for the Commonwealth’s economic success,” said Massachusetts Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash. “Massachusetts is competing for talent and business development globally, so it’s critical that the Commonwealth be proactive about welcoming, and nurturing, entrepreneurs, wherever they hail from. Programs such as the Global Entrepreneur in Residence provide a strong foundation for creative thinking and the innovative solutions required to grow businesses in Massachusetts.”

For more information about the program or to apply to participate, go to http://vdc.umb.edu/geir/.

About the Venture Development Center

The VDC opened in 2009 with one simple goal in mind: to make it easier for exceptional entrepreneurial teams with important ideas – no matter what university they attended – to take the strategic step from their university setting to a more commercial environment where they can obtain the validation required to secure investment and launch their companies. Today, we are proud to be launching some of the best startup companies anywhere, and to be stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Massachusetts. The Boston Globe named the VDC a “2015 Game Changer.” To learn more, visit http://vdc.umb.edu/.

About UMass Boston

The University of Massachusetts Boston is deeply rooted in the city’s history, yet poised to address the challenges of the future. Recognized for innovative research, metropolitan Boston’s public university offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s 11 colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 17,000 students while engaging local and global constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service. To learn more, visit www.umb.edu.

About Goodwin Procter

Goodwin Procter LLP is a leading Am Law 50 and Global 50 law firm, with offices across the United States and in Europe and Asia. Excelling at complex transactional work and high-stakes litigation, the firm combines in-depth legal knowledge with practical business experience to help clients maximize opportunities and manage risk. With more than 900 lawyers, the firm focuses on matters involving technology, life sciences, financial institutions, intellectual property, private equity, real estate capital markets, and securities litigation/white collar defense. To learn more, visit www.goodwinprocter.com.