Support For The Government's Proposed New Global Impact Visa

Support For The Government's Proposed New Global Impact Visa

The Kiwi Connect team welcomes the New Zealand Prime Minister’s announcement on a new visa initiative to attract high impact entrepreneurs, investors, and startup teams to New Zealand.

The Global Impact Visa that Prime Minister Key announced on Sunday in his speech at the National Party Conference is a big step to help realise Sir Paul Callaghan’s vision of New Zealand as a place where talents wants to live.

One hundred inspired entrepreneurs could turn this country around. It currently takes one genius entrepreneur to make a company like [our top 10 technology export earners], and it takes time to grow it. A hundred individuals could earn us $40 billion per annum in exports and get our propriety up, with no environmental downside.
— Sir Paul Callaghan

Over the past couple of years, Kiwi Connect has been in discussion with various government departments about how immigration can be a lever for prosperity, and better support innovation in New Zealand. Through innovative approaches to attract and retain world-class talent with potential to make a positive impact, we could attract the calibre of people who can provide a disproportionate boost to our entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystems; people who could create jobs, work to solve significant problems in New Zealand and around the world, and contribute towards inter-generational prosperity and wellbeing. A new impact visa could be a catalyst to help such entrepreneurship to flourish.

Our current immigration system is great at providing visas to migrants who have job offers in New Zealand. It is not so good at providing visas to the types of individuals who can create jobs.

Forbes recently published an article exploring the world’s best entrepreneurship visas, which illustrated the potential economic benefits of immigration. After implementing an entrepreneur’s visa, Ireland reported that the 20 approved visas under the programme generated an investment of over €6 million and created 220 jobs, between April 2012 and March 2014.

It’s great to see that New Zealand is ahead of Silicon Valley in considering immigration policy as a driver of innovation, as the United States has yet to develop any such policy that attracts foreign entrepreneurs wanting to start companies. By attracting individuals who are driven by the desire to make a global impact and solve big problems, New Zealand can differentiate itself from other countries, and lead in the race for talent.

When Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator, visited New Zealand in December, he spoke highly of the attributes of New Zealand’s startup scene, and listed New Zealand’s small size, tight-knit communities and transparent government as unique advantages. Scott Nolan, of Founders Fund, who accompanied Sam on that trip, has since suggested that New Zealand is only a couple of years away from being a globally recognised startup and innovation hub.

We want to have an impact. It’s cool that you can make a list of the problems in the world and then fund companies to solve them.
— Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator

While there are no shortage of great ideas in the minds of Kiwis, we have yet to reach a critical mass of entrepreneurs needed for the ecosystem to really thrive. New Zealand stands to gain much from attracting driven, passionate, well-connected individuals. Ideas and learnings from overseas can help us to think in new ways, and research has shown that companies who have foreign migrants on their team are generally more innovative and productive.

Alongside the Government’s announcement to incentivise investment and immigration to New Zealand’s regions, a Global Impact Visa could be a great complimentary policy to inject innovative new talent into entrepreneurial ecosystems around the country.

We look forward to seeing how the Government develops the this new visa concept.

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