Delhi University (DU) will surely be proud. According to a report on technology entrepreneurship among immigrants to the United States, the number of such entreprenuers who had passed out of DU was the same as those who came from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai.
What about the other IITs? Taken together, they only produced the same number of entrepreneurs as DU and IIT, Mumbai had.
The report Education, Entrepreneurship and Immigration, which looks at successful startups between 1995 and 2005, makes clear that the college the Indian immigrant came from was irrelevant to his entreprenueral ability. Startup successes in hi-tech and engineering came from even third-tier colleges.
Only 15 per cent of such entrepreneurs, for instance, came from the IITs. Less fancied Bangalore University and Bombay University produced more Silicon Valley stars than most individual IITs.
Says Vivek Wadhwa of Duke University, lead author of the report, “This tells us more about Indians than their education. The fact is that no matter what school they graduated from, given the right opportunities, they flourish. The IITs are great schools, but are not the only ones that produce successful entrepreneurs.”
The report’s primary correlation is that 75 per cent of the US’s immigrant tech entrepreneurs have higher education degrees in science, technology, mathematics or engineering. The report notes “the majority of immigrant founders came to the US as students” though only one per cent came with the intention of setting up a firm.
Over 90 per cent of Indian tech entrepreneurs have their first degree from a desi college. Only a third of their Chinese counterparts do the same. However, almost all the Indians picked up PG and doctoral degrees from US universities. This, says the report, may reflect the dearth of seats at these levels in Indian universities.
Asked to explain the Indian success story, Wadhwa said, “I would say Indian entrepreneurs come from an environment in which they have to constantly fight for survival and compete.”
An earlier study by the same group had found that a quarter of the US’s hi-tech and engineering startups had been begun by immigrants. Indians led the pack, launching more new firms than the next four nationalities on the list put together.