Israel to issue startup visas

James Riley
Editorial Director

As if anyone needed reminding that we are in a global competition to attract the best and brightest to work in Australia, the world’s most successful startup ecosystem outside of the US – Israel – has announced a new class of startup visa to attract more entrepreneurs.

The Israeli Ministry of the Economy and Ministry of the Interior will launch the new visas in conjunction with the nation’s Chief Scientist in the next several months.

The program will enable entrepreneurs from around the world to live and work in the startup city of Tel Aviv for 24 months to develop innovative projects. Entrepreneurs who then stay in Israel to found a startup company would then be granted a specialist visa.

Tel Aviv: The world’s number one ranked startup ecosystem outside of the US

It says something about the power of diversity that the new class of visas is being considered because of the view that attracting international talent to the city is seen as one of Tel Aviv greatest challenges.

The Australian Government is considering a range of visa-related issues in relation to its Innovation Statement – which is to be published before Christmas – according to Assistant Science Minister Karen Andrews.

Federal Labor has already said it would introduce a version of the startup visa. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced in September that a future Labor government would grant up to 2,000 visas to foreign university students who wanted to set up a business in Australia, and a further 2,000 visas specifically to foreign startup entrepreneurs.

The Compass report that ranks Tel Aviv as the number one startup ecosystem outside of the United States also states that the city’s integration of international talent is 40 per cent lower than Silicon Valley.

It has been Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality’s goal to diversify that workforce in order to promote the ecosystem. Hence the call to international startup entrepreneurs.

The Israeli Minister for the Economy Aryeh Deri said the country was already considered a world centre for innovation, but that it need policies that preserved that status. “The Startup Visa will enable foreign entrepreneurs from around the world to develop new ideas in Israel, that will aid the development of the Israeli market”.

This Startup Visa program is in addition to Tel Aviv’s ‘city-to-city-collaborations’ signed in September with Paris and Berlin.

The collaborations agreement lets entrepreneurs visit each other’s ecosystems and receive a soft-landing packages – including desks at co-working spaces, advice on visas, regulations and legal issues around starting up companies, as well as one-on-one mentoring assistance.

“Young entrepreneurs from all over Israel come to Tel Aviv to invent new products, and now young people from all over the world will be able to come and share this phenomenon with us,” said Tel Aviv-Yafo mayor, Ron Huldai.

“The decision of the Israeli government to launch a startup visa in 2016 is groundbreaking for the state of Israel and makes Tel Aviv’s ecosystem even more accessible and attractive for foreign entrepreneurs,” Mr Huldai said.

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