A new pilot visa program will attract budding foreign entrepreneurs to develop their businesses in South Australia, Premier Steven Marshall has said.
The three-year Supporting Innovation in South Australia visa is a federal government initiative set to be trialled in the state. The announcement was foreshadowed in the state's recent Budget.
"This is a refreshing, innovative, and bold drive to attract the world's best and brightest minds to South Australia to help create new business, industry, and jobs," Marshall said on Thursday.
The state government has committed AU$400,000 over four years to support the program, which was launched at the SouthStart technology and entrepreneur conference on Thursday.
Applicants will need to submit their business plans and be endorsed by innovation ecosystem providers or the Office of the Chief Entrepreneur.
The entrepreneurs can specialise in a variety of industries, but the government will look favourably at applications from defence and space, cybersecurity, big data, agribusiness, health, robotics, and film.
Industry and Skills Minister David Pisoni said the scheme is expected to attract up to 30 entrepreneurs in its first year and 100 the following year.
He said the program will focus less on the finances of the applicant.
"Importantly, unlike previous visa classes in this area, the new visa arrangement does not require applicants to demonstrate a minimum funding of AU$200,000 for approval," he said.
"The success of their application will ultimately rest upon the quality of their startup and idea, and the soundness of their business plan."
The federal government had announced earlier this year that it would begin conducting a pilot of its Global Talent Scheme visa from July to allow established businesses and technology startups to follow different streams to bring technology workers into the country.
Conditions of the pilot require businesses to demonstrate a policy to give "first preference to Australian workers" during recruitment, market testing for a position, and that a business be a "good corporate citizen" with no breaches of immigration or workplace laws.
Applicants must not have a familial relationship with company directors or shareholders, three years of experience directly relevant to the position, and a "capacity" to pass on skills to and develop Australian workers.
Established businesses must be publicly listed or have an annual turnover in excess of AU$4 million for the past two years, and are allowed to have up to 20 workers under the scheme that must be paid AU$180,000 or more. By contrast, the minimum wage for startups is laid out as "market salary rate", which can include equity but must have a cash component of more than AU$53,900. Startups can have up to five workers under the scheme each year.
Under the Global Talent Scheme, workers will gain a four-year visa that will allow for permanent residence after three years, and, should the role end, workers will have 60 days to find a new sponsor and new visa or be forced to leave the country.
In the South Australian Budget announced in September, the state government said businesses with payrolls below AU$1.5 million would be exempt from payroll tax from January 1, 2019, while businesses with annual taxable wages between AU$1.5 million and AU$1.7 million will pay less payroll tax. The changes will impact 3,200 and 400 businesses, respectively.
The state also allocated AU$44 million for an Innovation and Commercialisation Precinct, comprising seven buildings, to be refitted and repurposed over two years, as well as AU$4.8 million in rental subsidies over the forward estimates for 650 startup spaces in the precinct.
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