Immigrants from China and India are now senior executives at almost a third of Silicon Valley's hi tech businesses, according to a new study from the San Francisco-based Public Policy Institute of California.
UC Berkeley professor AnnaLee Saxenian found that in 1998 the 2,775 immigrant-run companies collectively accounted for more than $16.8 billion in sales, and more than 58,000 jobs.
Also the study revealed that the pace of immigrant entrepreneurship is increasing significantly. Chinese and Indian chief executives were running 13 per cent of Silicon Valley technology companies set up between 1980 and 1984, and 29 percent of those started between 1995 and 1998.
"This research underscores important changes in the relationship between immigration, trade and economic development in the 1990s," the study suggests.
"In the past, we have assumed that the primary economic contribution of immigrants is as a source of low-cost labour, even in the most technologically advanced sectors of the economy. Now, we are seeing dramatic evidence that foreign-born scientists and engineers are making significant and growing economic contributions to the state, both directly, as investors and employers, and indirectly, as facilitators of global trade and investment," it continues.
K. B. Chandrasekhar, who came from India to the US in 1990 and co-founded Exodus Communications a few years later, said he mentors as many young Indian entrepreneurs as he can find time to help. "It's a matter of pride for us," said Chandrasekhar, whose company provides network management systems.
Saxenian also found that the immigrants developed numerous professional and association activities that simplify information exchange and access to capital. She also found they are building far-reaching professional and business to other regions. These long-distance networks are accelerating the globalisation of labour markets and trade both in California and in emerging regions such as Taiwan and India, she said.
"The region's most successful Chinese and Indian entrepreneurs rely heavily on such ethnic resources while simultaneously integrating into the mainstream technology economy," Sexenian said.
The study also found emerging global ties allow startups and established firms in Silicon Valley to continue to flourish in spite of growing labour shortages in the US.
Public immigrant-founded or managed technology companies, based in Silicon Valley, include Cirrus Logic, Digital Link, Exodus Communications, Asante Technologies, C Cube Microsystems, Insignia Solutions, Integrated Device Technology and Yahoo.
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