Saturday, March 13, 2010

Helping Deep Diversity Flourish

Fresh ideas are the foundation of economic progress worldwide. Those new ideas ultimately result in viable products and services, healthy companies, and most importantly, meaningful employment. The only way to get better ideas is to get more ideas, and an organization’s ability to acquire new ideas and innovate is constrained by the diversity of its thought leaders. Stroll the hallways of any company that successfully innovates and you will bump into employees that are remarkably diverse in age, race, country of origin, experience, gender, education, etc. God built this rich diversity into the global population for many reasons, not the least of which is the need for diverse ideas in innovation.

After the tragedy of September 11, visas for foreign-born entrepreneurs became increasingly constricted. Although many involved in the process of innovation believe that we should staple a green-card to the diploma of anyone who completes a technical doctoral degree in the United States, we currently require most foreign-born students who graduate from a U.S. college to leave after graduation, taking their innovative ideas and entrepreneurial zeal with them.

In April 2009, Paul Graham, a partner at Y Combinator in Mountain View, California, wrote a blog post entitled “The Founder Visa,” venting his frustration at the number of young entrepreneurs packing up their remarkable ideas and heading home. Many in the tech community picked up the idea, and a grassroots media campaign sprang up. Soon, a planeload of techies from Silicon Valley, dubbed "Geeks on a Plane," headed to Washington DC to lobby legislators. The incredible result has been the introduction of legislation by Senators John Kerry (D) and Richard Lugar (R) entitled the StartUp Visa Act of 2010. If passed, the bill will provide a special EB-6 category visa for immigrant entrepreneurs who want to start a company in the United States, can demonstrate that they have raised $250,000 from a U.S.-based venture capital firm, and will employ at least five U.S. citizens. While this won’t add thousands of well-paying jobs in the near term, it certainly is a step in the right direction!

Dr. Gary Oster
Regent University
School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship


Innovation, diversity, StartUp Visa Act of 2010, entrepreneurship, immigration, strategy


O’Brien, C. (2010). Why Congress should pass the Startup Visa bill. Retrieved from