Immigrant-founded Moderna leading the way in Covid-19 response – Forbes

Moderna, the first company to ship a vaccine for testing against the novel coronavirus, was founded by an immigrant, Forbes writes.

Not only did an immigrant found Moderna but many of its key leadership positions, including its CEO, are immigrants, author Stuart Anderson writes.

“Noubar Afeyan, co-founder and chairman of Moderna, is a two-time immigrant. He was born to Armenian parents in Lebanon and immigrated with his family in his early teens to Canada. After attending college, Afeyan moved to the United States and earned a Ph.D. in biochemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He started his first company at age 24 and ran it for 10 years, during which time he founded or co-founded five additional companies,” Anderson continues.

In 1999 he founded Flagship Ventures to develop new companies through its in-house division VentureLabs. In addition to investing in startups the idea was to be more systematic in developing companies. VentureLabs conducted its own research and formed new companies if the research proved promising.

“The U.S. immigration system has no startup visa for founding a company, which is often an obstacle for foreign nationals with good ideas. However, Afeyan gained permanent residence through another route and is credited as a founder or co-founder of 38 companies. He also has over 100 patents. In 2009, he co-founded Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Moderna, Inc.,” the article continues.

Accoring to Forbes, Noubar Ayefan has voiced support for ways to increase the number of immigrant entrepreneurs in America. A startup visa is one way. Afeyan views immigrants and entrepreneurs as natural complements.

“What keeps you from innovating is being comfortable,” he says. “If you’re an immigrant, then you’re used to being out of your comfort zone.”

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