Australia urged to do more to attract technology entrepreneurs

by Ray Clancy on December 8, 2016

in Money, Business and Finance

There is an ongoing debate in Australia as to how much immigrants give to the country, but now a new report says they should be encouraged as they give far more than many people think.

Indeed, some 61% of Australia’s top 50 startup businesses were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants, according to a new report from StartupAus, a not for profit organisation working to improve technology entrepreneurship.

entrepreneur-jobsThe 2016 Crossroads report, an annual review of Australia’s startup ecosystem, calls for the entrepreneur visa programme to be improved and promoted to attract more people from abroad.

‘We have the necessary raw ingredients to become a major technology player globally. Currently the administrative challenges associated with obtaining 457 visas are impeding efforts of young Australian tech companies to recruit skilled IT workers,’ the report said.

According to Alex McCauley, chief executive officer of StartupAus, an improvement in the conditions for entrepreneurship in Australia could see up to $170 billion added to the Australian economy.

‘It has been a strong year for startups with some solid progress in the transition to a competitive, high tech economy. However, at a time when our traditional industries are under siege by global competitors, it’s vital we foster the growth of this powerful new economic segment,’ he said.

But he pointed out that Australia still records some of the lowest rates of startup formation, and one of the lowest rates of venture capital investment for a developed nation.

The report suggests that while Australia can be an attractive destination for foreign startups, internationally there is still limited appreciation of the breadth and depth of startup activity that exists in the country.

‘In parallel with implementation of an Entrepreneur Visa, an international business development capability would help to inform promising startups from around the world about the benefits of establishing in Australia and encourage them to move here,’ the report says.

According to the report’s author, Colin Kinner, Australia needs to produce a greater amount of entrepreneurs and do everything possible to stack the odds in their favour. ‘Startups can be an economic growth engine for Australia, but only if we greatly increase the number of startup founders and equip them with the skills, capital and supportive regulatory environment they need to succeed on a global stage,’ he explained.

According to Alex Gruszka, head of data and insights at StartupAus, given the young age of the Australian tech ecosystem people with 10 years or more experience of startups need to come from abroad.

‘We need people with entrepreneurial skills and people with STEM skills, but also people with experience,’ he said, adding that currently the wait for an entrepreneur visa is too long, meaning that Australia is not competitive with other countries.

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