(Harvard Business School grad and Global Entrepreneur-inResidence Vivek Gupta (right) at a fintech event at the Venture Development Center with the Boston Globe, and CEOs of Quantopian, Putnam and State Street.) 

Updated on 12/4/2016

First report on how the program is working

With national startup visa legislation stymied in a bitterly divided Washington D. C., Massachusetts is showing that something constructive is possible. Two years ago, it created the Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program to retain foreign grads of local universities who are launching startup companies. The program was developed by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and formed as a public-private partnership by Governors Deval Patrick (D) and Charlie Baker (R), working with members of the innovation community including Flybridge Capital Partners, Silicon Valley Bank and Goodwin Procter.

The University of Massachusetts Venture Development Center, which is leading the pilot program, has released statistics (below) on how the program is working. It provides the first concrete evidence of how a national startup visa is expected to benefit the country.

The Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence program gives entrepreneurs H-1B visas sponsored by the University of Massachusetts. Unlike private employers, a university is exempt from the annual H-1B visa quota. The university sponsors an entrepreneur for part-time work at its Venture Development Center and the entrepreneur spends the rest of their time advancing their startup company to the point where the company can sponsor the H-1B visa.

Strong demand among entrepreneurial grads of many universities and countries

The program reported that 84 entrepreneurs applied. Double the number applied in 2016 than 2015. Twenty-four or 28% of the entrepreneurs were accepted. All received visas. Nine of the 24 entrepreneurs have already “graduated” from the program with visas independent of the University of Massachusetts. 

The entrepreneurs represent 16 different countries, India leading with 29%. The entrepreneurs attended 15 different universities, with Harvard and MIT leading with 35% of the entrepreneurs. The program has also drawn entrepreneurs from universities outside Massachusetts including Stanford, Columbia and Carnegie Mellon. Ten of the 24 entrepreneurs are software engineers. The rest are finance, marketing, management and bioscience majors.

Entrepreneur’s companies have had fundraising success, and are adding employees

Of the entrepreneurs’ 21 startup companies, 19 are less than three years old, while the other two are less than five years old. The 19 companies have raised a total of $163,427,265 in private investment, and have a headcount of 276 employees. The other two companies have raised $37,450,000 and have 72 employees.

Other states following Massachusetts lead

Encouraged by the potential, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has proposed a new rule which would allow certain international entrepreneurs to be considered for temporary permission to be in the US. However, investors are pushing for more flexibility before the rule is adopted.

Meanwhile, the Venture Development Center has opened its application process for 2017 and plans to accept 15 more entrepreneurs. And other state universities in Colorado, New York and California have followed Massachusetts in adopting global entrepreneur programs.

Related: How two MIT entrepreneurs were saved from deportation.

Global Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program Statistics 2014-2016

Entrepreneur Applicants

Applied 84
Accepted 24
Acceptance Rate 28%

Entrepreneur Status

Participating 15
Graduated 9
Total 24

Entrepreneur Countries

India 7
Spain 2
Portugal 2
Germany 1
Pakistan 1
Switzerland 1
China 1
Taiwan 1
Nigeria 1
Ukraine 1
Brazil 1
Costa Rica 1
Ireland 1
Peru 1
United Kingdom 1
Italy 1
Total 24

Entrepreneur Skills

Software Engineering 8
Finance 4
Marketing 4
Management 3
Architecture/Design 2
Industrial Engineering 1
Bioengineering 2
Total 24

Entrepreneur Companies

Startups Less Than 3 Years Old 19
Startups Less Than 5 Years Old 2
Total 21

Investment and Employment

Less Than 3 Years Old Company Investment $163,427,265
Less Than 3 Years Old Company Employment 276

Less Than 5 Years Old Company Investment $37,450,000
Less Than 5 Years Old Company Employment 72