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."

Quick Poll

Do immigrant entrepreneurs 'punch above their weight' in importance?

VOTE

TOP STORIES TODAY

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.

Also on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Cheap Air Travel

    EasyJet founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, was born in Greece. Number of employees: 8,446 (in 2012)

  • Those Weirdly Sensual Adverts

    Michael Marks, a Belarusian Jew, came to the UK and teamed up with Thomas Spencer to create M&S. Number of employees: 81,223 (in 2012)

  • That Little Bit Of Extra Help

    Tesco was founded by the son of a Polish immigrant, a certain Mr Jack Cohen. In 1919 he was selling surplus groceries from an East London stall. By 2012 Tesco was worth £24.4 billion. Number of employees: 290,000+

  • Victory Against Napoleon

    Nathan Mayer von Rothschild moved to England from Frankfurt. His London bank was a leading funder of the British government during the Napoleonic Wars.

  • That Beer That Goes So Well With Curry

    Karan Faridoon Bilimoria, or Baron Bilimoria as he is more onomatopoeically known, was born in India before moving to the UK and founding Cobra beer in 1989. Number of employees: 200

  • The Scourge Phrase Of Anyone Who Works In The Service Industry

    Harry Gordon Selfridge moved to the UK from Wisconsin and founded the incredibly popular department store that bears his name. He is credited with coining the phrase: "The customer is always right." Number of employees: 3000

  • Everyone's Favourite Blackcurrant-Based Drink

    Half of the company that produce Ribena, GSK, was initially founded in the UK by American pharmacists Henry Wellcome and Silas Burroughs in 1888. They also produce a substantial amount of the drugs you'll find in your medicine cabinet. Number of employees: 97,389

  • A Lot Of Asset Management

    £236.5 billion worth in fact. Johann Heinrich Schröder was born in Germany before moving to the UK and founding Schroders in 1818. Number of employees: 3,012

  • Smartphones (well, they wouldn't be as good)

    Austrian-born Herman Hauser founded UK company Acorn Computers. In 1990, a joint venture between Acorn and Apple formed ARM Holdings. ARM are a behemoth in today's tech world so chances are your smartphone contains a CPU made by them. Number of employees: 2,000

  • As Much Advertising Everywhere

    Born in the UK to a Russian-Romanian Jewish family, Martin Sorrell took over shopping basket manufacturer <a href="https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/events/2012/01/22/sir-martin-sorrell-2012-and-beyond/" target="_blank">WPP in 1985 and turned it into an advertising monolith.</a>