TO THE CONSTERNATION of Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci, much of the couple’s coverage in the German press focused on their Turkish roots. “Our world can be saved. From Mainz. By children of migrants,” was a headline in Bild, Germany’s best-selling tabloid. Their story certainly defies the cliché of owners of doner-kebab stands and fruit-and-vegetable shops—even if Mr Sahin and Ms Türeci, chief executive and chief medical officer, respectively, of BioNTech, would have preferred to read about the details of their firm’s discovery, in partnership with Pfizer, an American drugmaker, of a highly effective vaccine against covid-19.
“There are other BioNTechs,” says Rosemarie Kay of the IfM, a think-tank in Bonn. Migrants are much likelier than the average German to start a business (see chart). According to a recent survey by KfW, a state-owned development bank, one in four of the 605,000 founders of firms last year had foreign origins. They are not limited to groceries and gastronomy. Spotted, established by Nik Myftari, a refugee from Kosovo, is a dating website. Novum, created in 1988 by Nader Etmenan, who fled Iran, has become one of Germany’s biggest chains of hotels.

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