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Google co-founder Sergey Brin (Thomas Hawk photo, via Flickr)
Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who was born in Russia, is an immigrant entrepreneur. (Thomas Hawk photo, via Flickr)

Immigrants have long played a critical role in the succes of the U.S. — leaving behind their homelands for what they hope will be a more fruitful life. And that risk-taking spirit of leaving something secure — or in some cases a bad situation — also translates well for entrepreneurship.

According to high-level findings from a study to be released by the National Venture Capital Association next month, immigrant founders at venture-backed companies — including big names like Google; Tesla; Intel and Yahoo — are responsible for 600,000 jobs worldwide. Even more mind-blowing, the report found that of the companies that went public between 2006 and 2012, a whopping 33 percent had at least one immigrant founder. That’s up from 20 percent prior to 2006.

And those companies are worth a lot of coin. Venture-backed, publicly traded immigrant-founded companies have a total market value of $900 billion, nearly double the $500 billion value in 2006.

Now, are there any arguments that we need to improve the immigration system in the U.S.?

In Seattle, the region has also benefitted from immigrant entrepreneurs. One of the region’s fastest growing tech companies, Bellevue-based Apptio (No. 25 on the GeekWire 200 list), was founded by Sunny Gupta, who was born in India and educated at the University of South Carolina. Maveron-backed Zulily (No. 2 on the GeekWire 200) and Trupanion (No. 18) were started by Canadians.

“As Congress debates comprehensive immigration reform, understanding the contributions of high-skilled, foreign born entrepreneurs to our country is imperative to ensuring meaningful changes to our system,” said Mark Heesen, president of the NVCA. “These individuals have founded many of America’s most successful companies, keeping jobs, market value and innovation here in the United States. Our policies must not only accept but welcome the next generation of immigrant entrepreneurs who are making even greater strides in starting and growing amazing companies.”

The full report — American Made 2.0: How Immigrant Entrepreneurs Continue to Contribute to the U.S. Economy — will be released next month.

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