The Australian Prime Minister’s Innovation and Science Agenda announced yesterday places innovation squarely at the top of the national agenda.
One of the Government’s strategic priorities is to attract the “best and brightest” entrepreneurial skills and talent into Australia.
The immigration system will need to be improved to support this initiative.
What is changing?
- A new Entrepreneur Visa
This is a temporary business visa for entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and financial backing.
Level of financial backing, sources of funding, business education and skills of the entrepreneur, and innovative, high-growth potential ideas are key issues to be considered when developing the visa program.
- Enhanced permanent residence pathways for postgraduate research graduates with STEM and ICT qualifications.
This change will provide overseas students with postgraduate research qualifications in STEM and specified ICT or related fields extra points under the points-tested Skilled Migration program to qualify for a permanent residence visa.
The program provides graduates who may otherwise have lacked sufficient work experience access to permanent residence. This will help convert research dollars into innovation and commercial success.
To put it into perspective, Australia currently ranks 116th out of 142 countries when it comes to converting research dollars into innovation and commercial success, according to the OECD.
What do the changes mean?
The new Entrepreneurship Visas is something that a number of other countries have used very successfully, including the US and UK. These changes have therefore been warmly welcomed by the start-up industry, including Startup Australia.
The improvements to retain STEM and ICT graduates students in Australia are important to help prevent the loss of Australian educational assets from Australia to overseas. These graduates are already familiar with Australian society and business culture, and could access financial resources from overseas to start up a business in Australia.
One of the key challenges for start-up and innovation businesses remains the issue of finding skilled workers and technical resources. The 457 visa program will continue to support businesses with human resourcing where skills are not available in Australia.
When will the changes occur?
The Entrepreneur Visa will be introduced in November 2016, and the enhanced permanent visa pathway for STEM postgraduate research graduates will be implemented in December 2016.
For more information
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 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014