Technology has long been a bridge connecting communities worldwide, and artificial intelligence is no exception. But it isn’t just AI applications that empower people around the globe – the creation of the technology itself is shining a spotlight on international innovation.
A Spring 2023 analysis from The National Foundation For American Policy (NFAP) studied the top 43 artificial intelligence companies in The United States to better understand the background of those contributing to the field’s rapid advancements. It turns out, immigrants – particularly those from India – are having a profound impact on AI’s development, and their influence is positioned to only grow from here.
Keep reading to learn more about the many immigrants driving innovation in American AI.
Immigrant Innovation by the Numbers
Of the 43 top American artificial intelligence companies, 65% (28 in total) were founded or co-founded by immigrants. And when accounting for founders or co-founders who are first-generation children of immigrant parents, this figure rises to 77%.
Many of these innovators found their way to the United States through educational pathways: 18 of the top 43 AI companies’ founders and co-founders arrived in the country as international students.
Moving forward, this avenue of immigration is expected to maintain influence over the industry: 70% of current full-time graduate students in AI-related fields are from foreign countries. This figure is similar in computer and information science programs, where immigrants account for 71% of graduate students.
India’s Impact on AI
To collect these figures, NFAP researchers interviewed leaders at 43 willing companies from 2023’s Forbes AI 50 list. On top of general immigration data, analysts also asked which countries the immigrant entrepreneurs came from originally.
The results spanned 21 different countries. India, of course, topped the list with immigrants from the country founding ten of the top 43 AI companies. Two of these leaders include Aditya Khosla, Co-Founder of PathAI, and Varun Singh, CTO at Moveworks. As of July 2023, both companies finished their Series C funding rounds with $165 million and $200+ million respectively.
Israel and the United Kingdom came next with three founders from each, and two founders came from Canada, China, and France as well. The rest of the immigrant entrepreneurs came from a wide array of nations, including Iran, Kenya, Syria, Argentina, Brazil, and others.
The Wider Impact of Immigration Innovation
In May 2022, the NFAP also completed a study surrounding the link between immigrants and billion-dollar companies. Though AI was only a small component of the study, researchers still found that at least 25 AI-related companies valued at $1 billion or more were founded or co-founded by an immigrant entrepreneur. Flash forward to today, and the collective value of the companies listed in Forbes AI 50 surpasses $27.2 billion in funding.
As anyone who’s following the AI space knows, this is only the beginning. By 2030, the industry is expected to be worth up to two trillion dollars. Considering the profound impact of immigrant innovations already – and the many foreign graduate students currently attending American universities – entrepreneurs from India and beyond are well-positioned to become the next generation of AI leaders.