“One hundred inspired New Zealand entrepreneurs can turn this country around.” Sir Paul CallaghanThose words led me to being in a really unexpected place this morning, listening to the Prime Minister give his speech at the National Party’s annual conference.
I was there specifically to hear his announcement on something I’m passionate about and have recently had a small involvement in called Global Impact Visas (GIVs).
Today the government officially announced it would be considering them.
John Keys official speech said that the government “will consider a new global impact visa targeted at young, highly-talented and successful technology entrepreneurs and start-up teams, who want to be based in New Zealand, employ talented Kiwis and reach across the globe.” The bigger question is what should these visas look like in order to shape a global export focussed New Zealand?
Remembering that GIVs do not yet have a formal policy framework, I think its an exciting time to be in as we can create something with a unique design for a fast changing economy.
From think tank conversations I’ve been involved in, the purpose of the visa seems to be to give a limited number of high impact entrepreneurs and investors the ability to establish or be involved in new ventures each year by moving to New Zealand. My arguments with this visa design is that it must be flexible around the concept of how success is measured, which can not just be financial success if we are to attract entrepreneurs with global impact potential.
So why might we want this flexibility?
As I spend time on the West Coast of the US, some of my entrepreneur friends who live in Silicon Valley and LA find themselves stuck because they dropped out of university (or never even started) in order to pursue their tech creating dream. This is great until you see the points system that our immigration systems rate you on which focus points on how much work experience you have, how many tertiary degrees you have and how much money you have, which scores unfavourably for many incredible young tech entrepreneurs. We only have to look at our current non degree holding home grown stars, Sam Morgan, Peter Beck and Sir Peter Jackson to see that our current scoring system can let incredible people fall through the cracks.
The GIVs offer a way to rank potential candidates on merit which can include their local and global impact potential. How this is measured however is still very much being debated, but I think it needs to ensure that those who do not qualify under our existing visa schemes but have potential for impacting New Zealand enterprises have a visa entry route which recognises their unique skills.
If they can come up with a scheme that is fair but flexible, I think it is a great idea.