Startups Speak: Immigration and the Innovation Economy

This post is by Fabien Beckers, Co-Founder at Morpheus Medical.

I am a foreign-born entrepreneur in America. My company, Morpheus Medical, has created the first cardiac diagnostic tool that provides 3D interactivity, flow and pressure inside the heart. And all it takes is a ten minute MRI exam. But since I am a French citizen, I faced deportation, and the possibility of losing the chance to build this life-saving company. Understanding the importance of immigration reform is understanding what innovators, of any nationality, are capable of achieving.

Heart-related diseases account for more than a third of all U.S. deaths, and in 2010, the total cost was estimated at around $444 billion; treatment of these diseases accounts for about $1 of every $6 spent on health care in this country. These numbers are second only to oncology -- the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Responding to the current lack of accuracy in diagnosis, our technology not only solves the problem, it also reduces the time required by doctors, and therefore lowers the cost. In addition, the non-invasive aspect makes our solution perfectly suited to diagnosing small children with heart defects and diseases.

After studying for my PhD at Cambridge in the UK, I came to the United States in 2010 to attend Stanford’s Graduate School of Business where I certainly benefited from the best education this country has to offer. But when I graduated and wanted to start a business of my own, I faced an additional challenge as a result of my nationality.

Founding a business is already a very challenging and chaotic process. When finding partners, investors and customers is just the beginning, immigration battles present another, totally unnecessary, hurdle.

At Morpheus, we were lucky enough to pique investor interest early, but unfortunately, the investment was conditional upon securing my immigration status. When my H-1B application was denied, my appeal failed, and other avenues were successively closed off, the survival of this company came down to one person in one office in California who thankfully put a stamp on my O1 application.

This is not how the system should work.

No company, community, or country can survive without talent. So we should be helping brilliant innovators who want to build companies that will change lives, here in America. Everyone I’ve spoken to -- Republicans and Democrats -- agrees that this issue needs attention. Now is the chance to act; this bill needs our support. A quarter of all tech startups have an immigrant founder. I think I speak for many of these founders when I say that I want to stay here and build a successful company that creates jobs. We need an immigration system that supports the American innovation economy.

If you have an immigration story to tell email