Foreign Talent Attraction and the Rise of Global Startup Visas

January 17, 2017

global startups


Entrepreneurs and tech workers are some of the most mobile people in today’s workforce, making the global battle for talent more competitive than ever. This class of skilled talent not only builds their own businesses and generates new knowledge, but also plays a significant role in cultivating additional jobs and investment. Don’t believe it? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that approximately 50% of U.S. annual GDP growth is attributed to increases in innovation. Thanks to numbers like this, entrepreneurs and techies are a target demographic for startup visas and talent attraction programs across the globe.

Immigration Policies Make or Break Talent Attraction

The world’s innovation industries already rely heavily on foreign talent. A recent Bloomberg article suggests that between 2006 and 2012, 24% of tech and engineering companies in the U.S. had an immigrant founder. In Silicon Valley, the figure was even higher at 44%, and the percentage keeps growing.

Despite popular demand for this demographic, controversial opinions on immigration can limit international talent attraction goals. These issues can be so obstructive that locations around the world are even beginning to see a host of unconventional workarounds. One of the most popular examples is U.S.-based Blueseed: a self-proclaimed “startup community on a ship,” located in international waters just 12 nautical miles off the coast of San Francisco. Blueseed allows foreign talent to develop entrepreneurial ventures in the U.S. if unable to secure a work visa.

Startup Visas Around the World

To begin to combat these issues, reformed immigration policies that allow non-citizens to start a business in a foreign country commonly known as “startup visas” have been growing in number since the mid 2000s. However, they’ve only recently become a necessary element for talent attraction and growing innovation economies. In 2015, there were only 12 countries worldwide that had created visas specifically to attract global entrepreneurs. In fact, the U.S. only launched its own International Entrepreneur Rule in late 2016 – a “startup visa” policy estimated to boost U.S. economic output up to $250 billion over the next 10 years.

From Chile to the Netherlands to New Zealand, countries around the world are devising entrepreneurial and tech talent attraction programs with the help of global “startup visas.” For U.S. states and cities also in the global battle for talent, it can be reassuring to understand that talent attraction is just as much a worldwide issue as it is a local one. Finally, once the right policies and incentives are set in place, don’t forget that there’s a potentially even more daunting task ahead: developing a complementary marketing strategy.

We’d love to hear your opinion. Leave us a comment below about your thoughts on foreign talent attraction and global startup visas.

Kaitlin Lapka

Written by Kaitlin Lapka

Kaitlin Lapka is an Account Executive at DCI. Since joining DCI in 2016, she has worked for places of all sizes, from country to county, including the Netherlands, Texas, New Hampshire, Auckland, New Zealand and Dutchess County, New York.

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