Mass. ‘Global Entrepreneur’ program gets boost from bank deal

17 Sep Mass. ‘Global Entrepreneur’ program gets boost from bank deal

A program that gives foreign students who attend Massachusetts colleges and universities the option of staying in the Bay State to build their businesses got a boost Thursday from Silicon Valley Bank.

Gov. Deval Patrick established the so-called “Global Entrepreneur in Residence Program,” administered by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, last year as a way to keep talent within Massachusetts. The program, which was estimated to cost $1 million for a one-year pilot, would help those foreign students get part-time jobs and jumpstart the H-1B visa application process — acting as a workaround to restrictive federal immigration policy.

The idea for the program — which was touted by Fortune magazine last year as a clever way around immigration reform — is to keep entrepreneurs in the Bay State from wherever they may hail. Other states, like Colorado and New York, were also looking into copying the program.

But Baker nixed the program as part of $500 million in proposed cuts to close a budget gap Baker inherited when he took office earlier this year. The Baker administration later budgeted $100,000 to pay for administrative expenses and the remaining cost of the program would be absorbed by a public-private partnership. That partnership seems to have taken root through the deal with Silicon Valley Bank, its first corporate partner.

The program, which is based at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Venture Development Center, will expand from two to 12 participating entrepreneurs this year.

As part of the deal, the bank will donate $30,000 to help UMass Boston continue to support the entrepreneurs, who will have a unique joint appointment at the school — serving as university employees who mentor student startups in addition to running their own companies. The program also helps company founders and other early employees navigate the H-1B visa process.

“Access to talent is one of the biggest challenges faced by fast-growing, innovative companies,” said Dave Buxton, managing director for Silicon Valley Bank in Boston, in a statement. “We aim to help increase the probability of our clients’ success and remove barriers to innovation and business growth. Through the great work of the Venture Development Center, we believe the GEIR program gives a significant boost to young companies and entrepreneurs, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”

The program was initially conceived by venture capitalist and Harvard Business School professor Jeff Bussgang and immigration lawyer Jeffrey Goldman, and was introduced by Patrick last year.

Original article