Startup Program for International Founders Launched at Michigan Technological University

April 24, 2023

Matt Fry, Global Detroit

Jim Baker, Michigan Technological University

Global Detroit’s Global Entrepreneur in Residence (GEIR) Program Expands.

Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech, MTU) becomes the fourth Michigan university to join Global Detroit’s Global Entrepreneur in Residence (GEIR) program, which helps immigrant and international entrepreneurs launch high-growth startups in Michigan.

International entrepreneurs who want to start a business in the United States face major challenges obtaining a visa. Global Detroit’s GEIR program places foreign-born startup founders at universities to teach, mentor and support technology transfer initiatives. The founders, in turn, become eligible for an H-1B visa—3 years with a possible 3-year extension—enabling them to launch and grow their company in metro Detroit and throughout Michigan.

Michigan Tech joins an impressive community of universities that have partnered with Global Detroit, including the University of Michigan (UM)—who successfully piloted the program—Wayne State University (WSU), and the College for Creative Studies (CCS). With an agreement in place, Global Detroit and MTU will conduct a candidate recruitment process that begins with a review of MTU’s international students and others who are developing new technologies and pursuing commercial opportunities. Michigan Tech’s Associate Vice President for Research Administration, Dr. Jim Baker, is eager to begin the search. He understands the positive impact founders have on the region, based on experience leveraging the GEIR model independently in the past. Baker says, “The international founders working for us under the program will provide immediate benefit to the regional innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Those founders will also be able to leverage valuable existing resources, including Husky Innovate on campus and MTEC SmartZone in the community, to help ensure the long-term success of their startups and sustained economic impact throughout the State of Michigan.”

To date, Global Detroit’s Global EIR program has supported seven founders from six companies, and those participants have raised $15.6 million in venture capital and created 49 part-time and full-time jobs. Four of these founders have completed their Global EIR programs and all have received longer-term visas and are working full-time with their companies. On the national level, a dozen universities have launched some version of a Global EIR program over the past decade. Collectively these Global EIR programs have enabled the launch of more than 100 startup companies that have raised over $1.5 billion in venture-backed capital investment and created over 2,500 U.S. jobs.

Global Detroit’s Managing Director, Dr. Alaina Jackson, is excited to embark on the MTU project and believes more partnerships are on the horizon. Jackson comments, “Global Detroit recently hosted a national GEIR convening of peer programs from around the country, and I left with the impression that the economic boost from immigrant-founded startup companies, the advancements in technology and research, and the value of inclusivity as a strategy, are all factors being baked into academic and economic development plans across the country.”

Funding for the Global EIR launch at Michigan Tech is provided through a State of Michigan appropriation for the Global Talent Attraction and Retention Program (GTARP), Global Detroit’s umbrella over a range of immigrant inclusion programs. The GTARP family of programs is an integral part of Governor Whitmer’s 60×30 plan to ensure that 60% of Michigan’s working-age adults possess a skill certificate or college degree by 2030.  

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Michigan Technological University

Michigan Technological University is a flagship technological public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan. The University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and is home to more than 7,000 students.

Global Detroit

With a focus on immigrants and global talent, Global Detroit develops and implements inclusive strategies to drive the growth, revitalization and broadly shared prosperity of Detroit and Southeast Michigan. By ensuring immigrants are a vital part of the region’s community and economic development strategies, Global Detroit is building a vibrant city and thriving global region with strong neighborhoods, healthy families, competitive companies, successful small businesses, and a rich and diverse cultural life. Founded in 2010, Global Detroit develops and leads programs centered on global talent, entrepreneurship, and neighborhoods with the aim of demonstrating the potential for large-scale impact. Global Detroit also continues to conduct groundbreaking research, drives policy, and serves as a leading advocate for immigrant inclusion as a strategy to build prosperity for everyone in Southeast Michigan.