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Foreign Entrepreneurs 'Disproportionately Contribute' To UK Economy, Says Luke Johnson

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Foreign entrepreneurs contribute "disproportionately" to the British economy and create jobs, according to serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson.

Johnson, the former Pizza Express boss who founded the Centre for Entrepreneurs, told the Huffington Post UK: "In my opinion, immigrant entrepreneurs disproportionately contribute to the enterprise economy and create jobs.

"Although these entrepreneur immigrants are relatively small who come here and settle, they actually punch above their weight in terms of economic importance."

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Speaking to HuffPostUK to mark the start of Global Entrepreneurship Week, Johnson warned that the government's tough immigration controls risked deterring foreign talent from coming to Britain.

"It's quite hard for people to come and settle here who come over from a number of countries, even if they're ex-students. I'm seeing a lot of very able people coming particularly from countries like Spain and Italy and thinking about running a company here."

Johnson said the debate about what level of immigration to accept was motivated by "sentiment as much as anything".

"We'd like to discuss how we manage immigration while at the same time embracing those high value added immigrants who will make a real contribution particularly in terms of entrepreneurship, job creation and generating taxes."

The Risk Capital boss' intervention comes as research from the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that EU immigration contributes £60 billion to the British economy.

The research found that migrant workers are more likely to be in work (63.3%) than UK-born citizens (56.2%), as well as more economically active (at 69.8%) than UK-born citizens (63%).

The Home Office was recently found to be suffering from a backlog of over 9,000 applications for entrepreneur visas after immigration officials failed to predict a surge in interest in the route to the UK.

The borders inspector said officials had "significantly underestimated" an increase in entrepreneur applications after it stopped graduates from applying for work once their studies were completed.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver claimed in August that EU immigrants had a better work ethic than "wet" British people.

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