Venture Capital Funding Lags Immigrant Growth

Cecilia Kang, Washington Post, Dec. 11, 2006

It’s a good time to be an entrepreneur in the Washington area as the amount of money given out by venture capitalists has increased in recent years.

And in an area where one in five residents is foreign-born, you’d think it would be a great place to be an immigrant business owner. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority has recruited dozens of businesses from Korea, Israel and India. Entrepreneurial networking groups have spouted in recent years to help immigrants get venture funding and promote their businesses.

Yet a recent survey shows the portion of immigrant-owned businesses getting venture capital financing is smaller than in other regions around the nation.

According to the MoneyTree report, a quarterly survey on venture investment funding, there were 54 venture capital deals valued at $332.1 million in the Washington region during the third quarter, up from 45 deals in the third quarter of 2005, valued at $321.3 million.

The report’s co-sponsor, the Arlington-based National Venture Capital Association, published a separate study on immigrant entrepreneurs that shows about one-third of the venture capital funding in the Washington area went to immigrant-owned businesses. That compares to 62 percent in California and 46 percent nationally.

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NVCA President Mark G. Heesen says the region’s high-tech and biotechnology markets—sectors that attract foreign-born engineers and scientists—are still developing, compared with those markets in Silicon Valley and Boston.

“Immigrant entrepreneurs also often come as students and are attracted to places like Stanford, MIT and the University of California system where a lot of tech transfers and innovation takes place,” Heesen said. “Once they are there, they tend to stay in those geographies.”

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