South Australia could become the first state in the nation to trial new visa arrangements designed to let start-up founders into the country to develop their ventures – but only if the state Liberal Party wins the upcoming election.
The Liberal-National Coalition-led Federal Government has given an undertaking to the South Australian division of the Liberal Party, led by Steven Marshall, to pilot the new visa initiative in South Australia.
The move comes as the state approaches its next election, which is set to be held on 17 March, in a move that has the potential to unseat the incumbent state Labor party, led by current Premier, Jay Weatherill, which is going for a fifth four-year term against the opposition.
Under the proposed initiative, new visa arrangements that allow state Governments to partner with business incubators in attracting foreign entrepreneurs to Australia would be piloted in South Australia, before a national rollout in 2019.
Under the proposed initiative, foreign entrepreneurs and investors with an innovative idea and a supporting business plan will be able to apply for a temporary visa to take forward their venture in Australia.
According to a statement from the office of Australia's Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, applicants to the proposed program would not need capital backing, unlike the current Entrepreneur Visa, which requires demonstrated funding of at least $200,000.
Instead, applicants’ proposals would be vetted by State or Federal Government entities, with those entities able to partner with incubators and accelerators to identify potential applicants for nomination.
Entrepreneurs who are successful in establishing their business venture in Australia will then become eligible to apply for permanent residence.
"Encouraging seed-stage entrepreneurs to take forward innovative ideas in Australia will assist in growing the jobs of the future,” Dutton said in a statement.
Given that the South Australian Labor Party has been in power for 16 years, it remains to be seen whether the new initiative will see the light of day.
However, the incumbent State Government has also done a great deal to make South Australia appealing to local start-ups.
As reported by ARN in April last year, South Australian entrepreneurs and start-up businesses were awarded nearly $1 million in March of that year alone to help take their ideas to the market.
The investment came from the South Australian Early Commercialisation Fund, a new State Government competitive grant program.
In November last year, the Labor-led State Government also pledged $2 million for a new Digital Games Development Hub in Adelaide, with the new hub is expected to create up to 500 new local jobs in the multi-billion dollar digital games industry.