New research finds international students are a crucial link in America’s efforts to lead the world in artificial intelligence. Foreign nationals studying at U.S. universities have become a key source of researchers and entrepreneurial talent in AI.
International Students As Entrepreneurs
“Forty-two percent (18 of 43) of the top U.S.-based AI companies had a founder who came to America as an international student,” according to a new National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) analysis. “Seventy-seven percent of the leading U.S.-based AI companies were founded or cofounded by immigrants or the children of immigrants.”
The research, which I authored, was conducted through interviews and gathering information on the 43 U.S. companies on Forbes AI 50, a list of the top startup companies “developing the most promising business applications of artificial intelligence—companies with compelling visions and the resources and technical wherewithal to achieve them.” A July 2022 NFAP study found immigrant entrepreneurs had started more than half of U.S. billion-dollar companies and included several AI companies.
In 2016, two former international students from France founded FarmWise, which employs AI for precision weeding on farms. Sébastien Boyer earned a pair of master’s degrees from MIT. Thomas Palomares received an M.S. in management science and engineering at Stanford.
Aditya Khosla came to the United States from India as an international student. After graduating from Caltech, he earned a master’s degree from Stanford and a Ph.D. from MIT in computer science. In 2016, Khosla and Andrew Beck founded PathAI, which uses AI to “optimize the analysis of patient tissue samples” and for other clinical and diagnostic purposes. The company has 250 employees.