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CUNY aims to open doors for international startups

80 foreign startups will set up shop on CUNY campuses
University Business, May 2016
Down to business: Students will get a chance to work with foreign entrepreneurs through a new program that will invite startups to launch on CUNY campuses.
Down to business: Students will get a chance to work with foreign entrepreneurs through a new program that will invite startups to launch on CUNY campuses.

A new incubator program at the City University of New York that offers foreign entrepreneurs a path to U.S. citizenship will also provide students with a potential front-row seat to the next wave of business innovations.

Some 80 foreign startups will set up shop on CUNY campuses through the In2NYC program created by the university system and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). These entrepreneurs, who often have difficulties obtaining U.S. visas after they graduate college, will work closely with CUNY students and faculty.

“This is a great way to retain talent that has been incubated at CUNYcolleges—and recruit new international talent,” says Ann Kirschner, specialadvisor to the chancellor for strategic partnerships at CUNY.

Leaders at each CUNY campus will determine what types of startups will be hosted there, based on its faculty and research strengths. New York’s key economic sectors—such as health care, technology, financial services and media—will likely be the focus of someof the new companies, Kirschner explains. “Participating entrepreneurs can help align curriculum with the needs of industry, serve as mentors and provide internships and research opportunities.”

Seven CUNY schools will participate: City College of New York, Baruch College, LaGuardia Community College, Queens College, Medgar Evers College, Lehman College and the College of Staten Island.

The NYCEDC begins accepting applications this spring, and the first entrepreneurs should be on a campus in the fall. The new companies could create more than 700 jobs over the next three years, the Development Corporation projects.

Association with the college allows the foreign-born innovators to apply for a visa without going through a lottery that issues just 65,000 work permits a year. This type of program could help the U.S. better compete with countries like England and Canada that have less stringent visa requirements for startup businesses.

And the program should be easilyreplicable—minimal resources are required of the CUNY schools since they are not “hiring” the entrepreneurs for the services they will provide.

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