Investor visa overhaul to boost venture capital for startups

Change could put more money on the table for startups, says Ai Group

An overhaul of the significant investor visa will increase startup access to venture capital in Australia, according to the Australian Industry (Ai) Group.

The association applauded an announcement by Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb, reported in <I>The Australian</i>, signalling that the government would revamp the visa to include venture capital as an eligible investment.

“Australian entrepreneurs face significant challenges accessing early-stage financing, either through debt or equity channels,” Ai Group chief executive, Innes Willox, said in a statement.

Ai Group and others had raised this issue in submissions to the government’s financial system inquiry, he said.

“Shifting some of the flow of significant investor funds away from low-risk government bonds to startups, small-cap companies and early-stage exploration companies has the potential to be transformational,” Willox said.

“This is especially important in the current environment as the country must rebalance away from mining-led growth towards new sources of competitive advantage.”

The Coalition-led government last week answered another long-time request from startups to change tax rules that discouraged small companies from providing share options to employees.

“Together with the changes to the employee share schemes announced last week by the government as part of its Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda, the changes to significant visas reported today could make a meaningful difference to Australia’s business landscape by boosting innovation and competitiveness,” said Willox.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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