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University-Industry Engagement Advisor

Visa exemption program helps universities attract foreign entrepreneurs

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: November 28th, 2018

A program launched by the University of Massachusetts (UMass) is spreading to other campuses and helping universities attract foreign entrepreneurs to support start-up activity.

The Global Entrepreneur in Residence (GEIR) Program is a response to the growing difficulty of obtaining H-1B visas, which allow U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. GEIR invites entrepreneurs from overseas to work part-time at a university, either as a mentor or an adjunct professor.

In return for their services, foreign entrepreneurs may receive a cap-exempt H-1B visa that gives them the opportunity to work on their own start-ups while also working the required 20 hours for the university. The goal of the program is to retain the entrepreneurs for about two years, or until they secure a green card or another visa.

Since UMass launched the program in 2014, it has given 50 entrepreneurs the chance to start their companies in the U.S. That group of entrepreneurs has raised over $416,442,265 in funding and created about 847 jobs. A number of universities have also adopted the program, including the University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Alaska-Anchorage.

“Boston is very special [for its] student talent and venture capital and entrepreneurial ecosystem, but if you’re another city and you want to create that ecosystem, this is a fantastic tool,” says Jeff Bussgang, venture capitalist at Flybridge Capital and co-founder of GEIR.

According to GEIR executive director Christi Bell, the program is less about “launching a certain number of businesses or engaging a certain number of students,” and more about identifying blind spots and creating an ecosystem of entrepreneurs.

Source: Crunchbase News

Posted under: Tech Transfer e-News

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