Immigrants Driving Innovation and Business Growth

Immigrants Driving Innovation and Business Growth

Immigrants Driving Innovation and Business Growth 1200 800 AY Institute

Immigrants are making a big impact on innovation and entrepreneurship worldwide. They are leading in patents in the U.S. and starting new businesses in the EU, helping economies grow. This article looks at the important roles these talented individuals play.

The big impact of immigrant inventors

Immigrants are significantly influencing innovation, especially in the U.S., where they play a major role in creating new patents. According to the Economic Innovation Group, immigrants are involved in 30% of all U.S. patents. They have an even larger impact in important areas like communications equipment and semiconductors, contributing to 35% and 34% of patents respectively from 2000 to 2018. This shows that while they make up only 20% of the workforce in these key industries, their contributions are vital to technological advancement.

Immigrants as entrepreneurs in the EU

In the European Union, immigrants are also becoming entrepreneurs, although slightly less than the native-born population. The OECD reports that about 13% of immigrants were self-employed in 2018, just a bit less than the 14.9% for native-born citizens. The number of self-employed immigrants has been growing, from 2.2 million in 2009 to 2.9 million in 2018, with a remarkable 47% increase in immigrant women starting their businesses.

Different self-employment rates across the EU

Furthermore, according to the OECD report, self-employment rates among immigrants vary across the EU. For example, the Czech Republic shows the highest rates, with 15.1% of immigrants from another EU Member State and an impressive 34.9% from non-EU countries being self-employed. However, Norway shows the lowest rates, with only about 6% of immigrants working for themselves. These numbers reflect the different economic opportunities and challenges that immigrants face in various regions.

Immigrants leading innovation in key industries

The data clearly shows that foreign-born talent is essential for innovation, especially in industries that are important for a country’s economy and security. Immigrants are often leading the development of new technologies. This debunks any myths that their contributions are minor or hidden. Their active involvement is well-recognized and critical for maintaining a competitive edge in the global market.

Understanding and supporting the role of immigrant inventors and entrepreneurs can help countries tap into this potential for economic growth and innovation. This is particularly important as nations navigate the complexities of global migration and aim to benefit from a diverse workforce.


  • Economic Innovation Group: Immigrants and U.S. Patents: link
  • OECD: Levels of Immigrants Among the Self-Employed: link

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