Canada Beats America to the Punch: Approves A Startup Visa for Immigrant Entrepreneurs

We are incredibly excited that Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), in partnership with the Canadian Venture Capital Association (CVCA) approved an official Start-Up Visa (SUV) pilot program for business class immigrants: the Start-Up Business class. The goal of the SUV program is to facilitate the immigration of a new type of immigrant entrepreneur to Canada with the potential to build innovative companies that compete on a global scale and create jobs for Canadians.

Photo Credit: Mars Discovery

To be eligible for the SUV program, a foreign entrepreneur would be required to have a commitment from a designated private sector organization (Canadian business incubator, Canadian angel investor group, or Canadian venture capital fund) before they could apply to the CIC with their immigration application.

How it all started

In 2009, two talented Romanian developers and co-founders of the Internet startup, Summify were accepted into the Bootup Labs accelerator program in Vancouver, BC Canada. With financial backing from accredited investors Bootup Labs (Danny Robinson and Boris Mann) and Boris Wertz, it was still challenging for the Romanian entrepreneurs to immigrate to Canada and build their business. Though frustrating, their immigrant journey inspired, in part, the formation of the Startup Visa Canada initiative and can be found here at startupvisa.ca.
Photo Credit: Danny Robinson

Nothing is done alone
The SUV Canada campaign team started with just Boris Wertz, Danny Robinson and Maura Rodgers. In no time, the team grew to include Eric Brooke, Chris Arsenault, Mark MacLeod,David Crow and Mike Edwards and attracted the endorsement of over 60 technology leaders across Canada. In addition, Vision Critical donated free public research allowing the team to survey Canadians and establish that:

  • 86% of Canadians believed Canada could become a real hub of entrepreneurial activity in North America with the right policies in place
  • 72% thought Canada should act to stay ahead of the US in attracting entrepreneurial talent.

CVCA Endorsed Startup Visa
Through our advocate Chris Arsenault, the Canadian Venture Capital Association stepped up to endorse the initiative and partner with the Canadian government to fast track the first Startup Visa Program. Recognizing the importance of a Startup Visa, CVCA’s Executive Director Richard Remillard was a true champion of this campaign and worked tirelessly to move it forward. A big thank you to Richard for all of his support and hard work in making Startup Visa Canada a reality.

“We believe startups to be the driving force behind job creation and prosperity,” said executive director Richard Rémillard. “We need to be pro-active in attracting foreign entrepreneurs.”

Getting and staying ahead.
While we are very happy to beat our American neighbours to the punch, the work is not over. It is now up to the incubators, accelerators, angels and VCs to attract and  encourage the most talented entrepreneurs around the world to choose Canada as the best place to start and build their companies. After all, Canada has a lot to offer entrepreneurs including Universal Health care, a multi-cultural society, strong economy and is just a short flight away to thriving American tech hubs like NY or Silicon Valley.

More info:

CVCA Press Release [pdf]

Mission Accomplished – StartupVisa Canada by David Crow

Mission accomplished: Startup Visa Canada is here by Boris Wertz

About these ads

Danny is the quintessential serial entrepreneur. He has founded 2 multi-million user internet companies, and raised over $100M in venture capital across 9 rounds of financing. Before moving back to Canada in 2001, he lived in the Palo Alto and Menlo Park for 5 years. On the side, he works to make Vancouver the tech center it can be by connecting local entrepreneurs to valley-based VCs, bringing the popular networking event Twiistup to Vancouver, and serves on the Science World Equity Committee. Danny is a member of the board of directors for Suite101, Techtrack, and iFind Media systems. In 1998, he started Spinway, a private label ad-supported dial-up ISP. Under his stewardship, Spinway grew to 8 million members in 11 months. It was later sold to United Online (NetZero) and is still operating today. He co-founded iFind Media Systems in 2002, makers of in-mall advertising and wayfinding kiosks. Most recently, he founded Peerflix, an online P2P DVD trading company, in 2004, where he raised $10M from US Venture capitalists including Battery Ventures, 3i and BV Capital. Peerflix is still operating today.

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