The Global EIR National Peer Network

A Growing National Collaboration to Support Immigrant Founders

Research from the National Foundation for American Policy chronicles the enormous contributions that immigrant founders have made to America’s startup community. In fact, 55% (319 of the 582) of America’s “unicorns,” the most valuable startups—companies valued at over $1 billion—have an immigrant founder. What’s even more remarkable about the prevalence of immigrant founders with the American startup ecosystem is the absence of a startup visa or robust immigration path for highly skilled individuals to launch their companies in America, something that 25 other nations, including Canada, the UK, Australia, Germany and Sweden possess.

To facilitate the attraction, retention and expansion of high-growth startups launched by immigrant founders, a growing number of communities are launching Global Entrepreneurs in Residence (Global EIR) programs that connect promising innovators with part-time university jobs teaching and mentoring students. This pairing facilitates the growth of university venture centers, enhances research, and creates student internships within the startup company.  

Over the past decade roughly a dozen universities have launched a Global EIR program, enabling the launch over 100 new startups.

Over the past decade, roughly a dozen universities have launched some version of a Global EIR program. Collectively these Global EIR programs have enabled the launch of more than 100 startup companies that have raised over $1.5 billion in venture-backed capital investment and created over 2,500 U.S. jobs. Global Detroit’s Global EIR program is one of these, and has helped place founders at the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and the College for Creative Studies.

Starting this past summer, with generous support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Global Detroit has led the launch of a new national peer network of Global EIR programs, supporters and enthusiasts.

Over 30 individuals from more than 20 organizations participated in the network in 2022.

Boston Convening

In September 2022, leaders from eight current and developing Global EIR programs gathered in Boston for the first in-person national peer network convening of Global EIR programs. 

The gathering included representatives of
  • Babson University
  • Cincinnati Compass
  • Federal City Council
  • Global Cleveland
  • Global Detroit
  • Grand Rapids Chambers of Commerce
  • Michigan Technological University 
  • University of Massachusetts-Boston
  • Venture Development Center

These local programs were joined by Craig Montuori, the cofounder and former executive director of Global EIR, Tahmina Watson of Watson Immigration and author of The Startup Visa and Legal Heroes in the Trump Era.

The Global EIR National Peer Network convening in Boston focused on the work of local Global EIR programs, including the details involved in securing university participation, recruiting and vetting potential founders, raising funding for the programs, supporting founders through their journey, including their successful exit from Global EIR programs, engaging alumni, as well as tracking and evaluating outcomes. We spent hours discussing how a national peer network could help local programs proliferate and help provide support in navigating these challenges.

The convening also included a panel discussion from six Global EIR alumni from the UMass Boston Venture Development Center, who collectively have raised more than $60 million and employ more than 100 FTEs. These alumni each testified to the importance of the Global EIR program to their own startup journey and their desire to give back to current and future Global EIR founders and programs.

The founders discussed the role their companies were playing in making important contributions to our society, like helping to advance clinical trials for COVID vaccines and using AI to solve congestion and provide for sustainable development.
Until we see more fundamental changes in U.S. immigration law, the Global EIR program provides a critical solution for immigrant founded startups, which make up half of the U.S. startup economy. We are building a national peer network of these programs because it is a critical, often unheralded, tool for securing America’s economic future.

“Given the critical role that immigrant startup founders play in America’s innovation economy, communities with a Global EIR option possess a tremendous competitive advantage at attracting and retaining some of the world’s most exciting startups.”

Executive Director, Global Detroit

The Boston convening enabled attendees to discuss their individual successes, challenges and opportunities around the Global EIR program and to plan how a national peer network can help each organization. Groups felt a deeper connection and inspiration to pursue the work.

Washington DC Convening

In November 2022, the Global EIR National Peer Network hosted its second convening in our nation's capital.

Global EIR programs and champions from Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Detroit, Seattle and Washington, D.C. had the opportunity to meet directly with officials from the White House and the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Members of Congress in a series of meetings to discuss the prospects for a federal startup visa, as well as other pathways to support immigrant entrepreneurs.

We also met with potential university partners interested in launching a D.C.-based Global EIR program led by the Federal City Council, a D.C.-based corporate CEO group that has been a member of the network.

We were greatly encouraged by the enthusiasm among Biden administration officials, as well as Members of Congress from each party to push for policy reforms that will assist immigrant startup founders.

© 2023 Global Detroit
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© 2023 Global Detroit