Bid to make Australia a world hub for startup entrepreneurs

A startup industry push is underway to relax current unnecessary visa red tape so that Australia can become a “world melting pot” for early stage entrepreneurs.

This follows the experience of Sydney-based startup accelerator H2 Ventures, which has been able to attract a group of young international entrepreneurs in its most recent intake.

The entrepreneurs are developing innovative solutions in areas such as health care, human resources, hospitality and insurance.

The entrepreneur visa issue will be discussed at the Collab/Collide Summit, being held as part of the Intersekt fintech festival on 3 November 2017 in Melbourne, as part of a panel session discussing a “health check” of the Australian fintech industry.

FinTech Australia together with startup advocacy groups StartupAus and TechSydney is pushing for changes to the Australian Government’s Entrepreneur Visa.

A joint submission by the groups lodged in June 2017 notes that, at present, entrepreneurs who utilise this visa are required to illustrate a $200,000 investment into their business, from a venture capital fund or government source. This is despite the fact that very few venture capital funds invest in early stage companies.

They then need to be approved by a State or Territory government.

The submission instead argues that paths to qualifying for an entrepreneur visa should be broadened, and particularly that entrepreneurs who have been accepted into an established incubator or accelerator should qualify for the visa without the need to meet the investment threshold. This is the approach Canada has taken with its entrepreneur visa.

A July 2017 submission to a review of Australia’s business, investment and talent visas by the Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association makes a similar request.

This submission states: “Instead of directly competing with larger innovation hubs such as Silicon Valley for only the most experienced entrepreneurs…Australia can reap significant ‘early-adopter’ benefits by attracting founders of high-potential businesses that are still in the incubation or start-up stage.”

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection website says that the processing times for Entrepreneur Visa application are “unavailable due to the low volume of applications”.

Toby Heap, a founding partner of H2 Ventures said: “Australia’s startup infrastructure and lifestyle is held in high regard around the world and therefore, with the right policy settings, we should be able to attract many high-quality international entrepreneurs.”

“The high-growth startups that these entrepreneurs establish will be creating jobs in Australia that don’t currently exist – not taking any existing jobs.

“Therefore, it’s a win-win proposition to be doing everything possible to attract these sorts of people to Australia.

“The fact we have such a strong international cohort into our latest intake to our accelerator program illustrates the vast potential of making these important visa changes.”

Read the full story in Business Insider Australia

Photo below: Gilberto Spencer, Francisco Fleming, Marisol Challen and Alejandro Moran, international members of the latest H2 Ventures intake.