Foreign-Born Founders Behind 39% Of The UK’s Fastest-Growing Companies

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Back in 2019, we revealed that half of the 100 fastest growing companies in the UK had a foreign-born founder (well 49%, but what’s one startup between friends?).

This number helped change the way people thought about immigration. There was no denying that immigrants were key drivers of UK innovation.

Rishi Sunak quoted the data time and time again, but he’ll have to update his figures. Using data from Beauhurst, we can reveal that the number has dropped to 39%.

While some will point to Brexit, we’ve also had a pandemic. Also, two data points don’t make a trend (which is why we are planning to keep measuring this in future years).

Disparity between the percentage of the UK population that is foreign-born and companies in the Top … [+] 100 which have a foreign-born founder

The Entrepreneurs Network

But we can’t rest on our laurels.

That’s why we have 10 bold policies to help ensure that the UK is open to the very best talent in the world. I’ll touch on a few here.

First, we should build on the UK’s incredible High Potential Individual (HPI) visa by expanding the list of universities and higher education institutions it includes. The great thing about this visa is that it doesn’t tie immigrants to a particular employer. As we’ve written about in detail elsewhere, it just needs expanding to include graduates from many of the world’s top performing universities.

The report also calls for the expansion of the Youth Mobility Scheme so it includes more countries with deep historical, cultural and economic ties with the UK in the Youth Mobility Scheme. We also think time spent on it should count towards an individual’s Indefinite Leave to Remain, if they stay in the UK.

One idea from leftfield is the trial of a ‘Global Talent Exam’ to enable a cohort of talented young individuals to relocate to the UK. While they wouldn’t need to start businesses – like the popular Sirius Programme – many will go on to create things.

Finally, we need to overhaul the bureaucracy. The cost comparison with Australia, Canada and Germany is enough is eye watering – it’s 43 times as expensive as Germany. In a bid to raise a few pounds in the short term, we’re disincentivizing the future job creators.

Cost comparison for a 5-year skilled worker visa.

The Entrepreneurs Network

Consider Nazim Valimahomed. Originally born in Uganda, Nazim and his family fled to the UK as refugees following Idi Amin’s seizure of power. They then moved to Canada, where Nazim spent the rest of his childhood growing up before going to university. After graduating, he relocated to Moscow as Russia was opening up economically. In 2015, Nazim became a permanent UK resident using an Entrepreneur Visa.

Kroo, a fully licensed digital bank, which he set up with Tim Brown, now has over 100,000 personal current account customers, with more than three-quarters of a billion pounds in total customer deposits.

In Nazim’s words: “It’s in the DNA of an immigrant to want to achieve things.” The 39% of immigrants running many of the UK’s most impressive companies are testament to this.

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