Immigrant Entrepreneurs in the Massachusetts Biotechnology Industry

Daniel J. Monti, Laurel Smith-Doerr and James McQuaid
Date of Publication: 
June, 2007
Source Organization: 
The Immigrant Learning Center, Inc.

The findings suggest that the nationwide trend of skilled immigrants creating high tech businesses is also affecting the Massachusetts biotechnology industry.

Among the more striking conclusions found about biotechnology firms founded in New England are:
• In 25.7 percent of these companies, at least one founder was foreign-born.
• Biotechnology companies in New England with at least one immigrant founder produced over $7.6 billion in sales and employed over 4,000 workers in 2006.
• Like the nationwide results for immigrant entrepreneurs in the biosciences, the founders of biotechnology firms in Massachusetts and New England come from nations across the globe.
• However, foreign-born founders of biotechnology firms in Massachusetts, like high technology immigrant entrepreneurs nationwide, are more likely to come from Europe, Canada or Asia.
• About 12 percent of founders of Massachusetts biotechnology firms are women.
• Immigrant-founded biotechnology firms in Massachusetts are focused in Human Therapeutics and Genomics/Protemics. Human Therapeutics are treatments of disease. Genomics/Proteomics study the “map” of the human genome, which is our gene sequence, and the proteins that constitute genes to look for health applications.
• Immigrant entrepreneurs, therefore, specialize in the most complex, risky, life science-intensive aspects of biotechnology to seek knowledge directly applicable to human health.

This evidence strongly suggests that immigrants have been key contributors to the creation of new businesses and intellectual capital in the Massachusetts biotechnology industry.

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Monti, D. J., Smith-Doerr, L., & McQuaid, J. (2007). Immigrant Entrepreneurs in the Massachusetts Biotechnology Industry. Malden, MA: The Immigrant Learning Center.