Supporting innovation through visas: the Entrepreneur Visa
1 The Migration Law Committee responds to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s consultation questions as follows.
Should the entrepreneur require nomination from a state or territory government in order to apply for the Entrepreneur visa, consistent with the other streams of the Business Innovation and Investment Programme (BIIP)?
2 The Migration Law Committee is aware that most state and territory governments have programs providing assistance to support the development of innovative technologies. These include for example:
• LaunchVic: http://economicdevelopment.vic.gov.au/about-us/strategies-and-initiatives/launchvic
• Innovate NSW: http://www.industry.nsw.gov.au/business-and-industry-in-nsw/innovation-and-research/innovate-nsw
• BioSA: http://bioinnovationsa.com.au/about/missionstatement/
• Advance Queensland: http://advanceqld.initiatives.qld.gov.au/entrepreneurs-startups.aspx
• InnovationACT: http://www.business.act.gov.au/home
3 However there is no need to limit Entrepreneur Visas to those nominated by state or territory governments. One of the key aims of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda is to encourage more collaboration between primary researchers, universities, research institutes, and industry bodies.1 Additional organisations capable of nominating a visa applicant should include universities and non-government organisations (including not-for-profits and corporations) as each of these types of organisation is a potential start-up partner or support organisation for the visa applicant. For example, universities should be able to support the application if the individual has been selected for a university incubator program like the Melbourne Accelerator Program (the MAP).2
4 Nominations should however, be required to also be assessed by an appropriate Assessment Authority as well as by the Department. The aims of the Entrepreneur Visa include promoting collaboration amongst businesses, universities and the research sector to commercialise ideas and solve problems, so potential visa applicants should be encouraged to reach out to potential collaborators when considering whether to apply to enter Australia to pursue their innovative ideas. Moreover, the provider of the funds supporting the start-up venture may already have links with organisations in Australia who may be willing to nominate and support the visa applicant. It is important that the integrity of the start-up proposal is thoroughly assessed however, and that can be done by an appropriate Assessment Authority.
5 The Migration Law Committee notes that IP Australia is not listed as an Assessment Authority on the Department’s Website, and suggests that consideration should be given to whether IP Australia would be an appropriate Assessment Authority for Entrepreneur Visa applicants.