Canada comes in top 5 among G20 in Entrepreneurship Ranking

Lack of regulatory barriers, availability of venture capital funding and a culture that embraces entrepreneurship placed Canada in the top quartile in the EY G20 Entrepreneurship Barometer 2013 (U.S. Department of State)

A new report by Ernst & Young places Canada’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in the top five among the G20 countries.

The G20 Entrepreneurship Barometer 2013 ranks a country’s entrepreneurial environment according to its score in five sub-categories: access to funding, entrepreneurship culture, tax and regulation, education and training, and coordinated support between government, academic institutions and the private sector.

The formulation of the ratings relies on business environment indicators, like number of new businesses started per year, data collected in a survey of more than 1,500 entrepreneurs across the G20 countries, the insights gained in interviews with entrepreneurs, academics and experts, and a qualitative analysis of government initiatives to encourage and assist entrepreneurship.

Canada came fourth in the access to funding category, thanks largely to per capita venture capital funding that is second only to the U.S. It ranked third in entrepreneurship culture, behind the U.S. and South Korea, as interviewees had a generally positive opinion of the country’s attitude toward entrepreneurship and its acceptance of failure (more accepting than other countries).

In the tax and regulation category, which scores countries by the ease of complying with regulations when starting and running a business, and the number of special tax incentives for entrepreneurs, the country came second, after Saudi Arabia, for its simple business registration process, lack of labour laws allowing for a flexible labour market, and an abundance of tax subsidies for small and medium sized enterprises.

While the G20 Entrepreneurship Barometer is one of many possible ways of determining the quality of an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and has not been shown to predict for entrepreneurial success, Canada’s strong showing will at the very least help boost its image globally as a centre of innovation and a country that’s open for business.

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Diane Francis Says Canada Needs a Silicon Valley

Diane Francis says Canada needs to do more create its own version of Silicon Valley in order to obtain the economic benefits that tech entrepreneurs can provide

A recent article in the blog of Diane Francis, an editor-at-large for the National Post, argues that Canada needs to create its own version of the American Silicon Valley, and commends Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) for taking a step in this direction with the creation of the Start-Up Visa.

Francis says that skilled entrepreneurs can provide the type of economic boost that a country cannot ignore:

Canada has been America’s farm team for centuries, providing brawn, brainpower and talent to feed its mighty industries. But the contest for talent has never been greater, notably for those technology entrepreneurs who are capable of invention, innovation and single-handedly replicating the GNP of small states.

She applauds Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s May visit to the U.S. to recruit technology workers facing H-1B problems, and argues that the Canadian government needs to do more campaigns like this.

With the CEOs of American technology giants lobbying for greater government action to attract foreign tech talent to the U.S., Congress won’t stand still Francis says, and will try to match Canada’s Start-Up Visa program.

The federal government should be looking to add to its efforts now, to match the inevitable response by the U.S. government.

Not only should Canada be recruiting foreign tech workers living in the U.S., it should also be encouraging immigration by Americans themselves, who could find Canada’s tech clusters, a midst world class urban centres enticing, she argues.

Francis notes that the Government of Canada has a $500 million Venture Capital Action Plan in the works, which will subsidize Canadian venture capital firms that invest in Canadian start-ups.

Government subsidies like these, Francis says, are alone not enough to create a “technology venture capitalist marketplace” however, and the federal government should also be scaling up the Start-Up Visa program and increasing tax breaks for entrepreneurs.

A focus on economic impact of immigration

Francis’ call to action on attracting foreign entrepreneurs is one of several in a series by influential Canadian individuals and prominent Canadian institutions urging the country to make a more concerted effort to extract economic benefits from immigration.

Other than pushing for more entrepreneur friendly immigration programs, the other area of immigration policy that pundits have repeatedly pressed the country to give more attention to has been building on Canada’s strengths as a destination for international students and increasing the foreign student population.

This has included calls to make it easier for international students already in Canada to become permanent residents.

The provincial governments have also called on the federal government to increase the role of the provinces in selecting new Canadians. They say that the Provincial Nominee Programs (PNPs) allow them to select immigrants that meet their unique economic needs.

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Immigration Minister to Visit Silicon Valley to Promote ‘Start Up Visa’

Waterloo, Ontario, sometimes called Silicon North, is one of Canada’s major tech centres. Citizenship and Immigration Canada hopes the new Start Up Visa encourages foreign technology entrepreneurs to start companies in the country

Canadian Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney will be visiting California’s Silicon Valley on Friday for a four day trip intended to promote Canada as a place to live for the region’s entrepreneurs.

According to an article in San Jose’s Mercury News, a billboard is currently appearing near Silicon Valley advertising Canada to foreign tech workers struggling with H-1B visa restrictions:

On Tuesday, just days before Kenney was set to tour San Francisco and the South Bay to promote his new visa for startup entrepreneurs, a giant red maple leaf emerged on a billboard off Highway 101 on the route from San Francisco to the heart of Silicon Valley, part of a Canadian advertisement encouraging tech workers here temporarily to migrate north permanently.

Modeled on an idea first introduced but never passed in the U.S. Congress, Canada’s new “startup visa” grants permanent residency to entrepreneurs who can raise enough venture capital and start a Canadian business.

“H-1B problems?” asks the South San Francisco billboard, referencing America’s temporary visa for skilled foreign workers. “Pivot to Canada.”

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) hopes to capitalize on the frustration tech companies in the U.S. are feeling over immigration restrictions on foreign technology workers and encourage them to relocate to and invest in Canada.

The eventual goal is to help foster the development of a Canadian equivalent to Silicon Valley.

One challenge that CIC faces in this mission is the country’s top marginal income tax rate, which is significantly higher than that of the U.S. A Canadian entrepreneur can look forward to paying about 50 percent of their income to the government if they succeed in joining the top bracket of income earners.

Compensating for this disadvantage, the federal government is offering a perk that no other advanced economy offers foreign entrepreneurs: permanent residency status.

For foreign tech workers in the U.S. anxiously awaiting the six year limits on their H-1B visas, immigration to Canada offers a chance of stability that only permanent residency can provide.

Also working in Canada’s favor is the perception of being a safer country than the U.S., with significantly lower violent crime rates, particularly homicide rates. A better fiscal situation, with a much lower deficit to GDP ratio than the U.S., also gives foreign nationals more confidence in the country’s economic future.

Regardless of how successful CIC’s headhunting campaign in Silicon Valley ends up being, the federal government has a lot of ground to make up for, with total venture capital funding in all of Canada in 2012 coming to $1.5 billion -less than 15 percent of the $10.9 billion worth of deals that happened in Silicon Valley last year.

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Immigration Canada Announces April 1 Launch of Start-Up Visa Program

Foreign entrepreneurs who receive venture capital funding from a designated venture capital fund or angel investor group will qualify for the new Start-Up Visa Program (CICS News)

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced on Thursday that foreign entrepreneurs would be able to start applying for the newly created Start-Up Visa Program on April 1st of this year.

“Canada is open for business to the world’s start-up entrepreneurs,” said Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in announcing the launch date.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship are essential drivers of the Canadian economy. That is why we are actively recruiting foreign entrepreneurs – those who can build companies here in Canada that will create new jobs, spur economic growth and compete on a global scale – with our new start-up visa.”

To qualify for a Start-Up Visa, a potential immigrant must receive venture capital funding from a fund and angel investor group designated as a recognized venture capital investor by CIC, in partnership with Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA) and the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO).

A full list of designated venture capital funds and angel investor groups can be seen on the CIC website.

International competition

The Canadian Start-Up Visa Program is the first permanent residency program of its kind in the world but will still have to contend with competition for global start-ups from other countries which offer temporary residency and other perks to attract foreign entrepreneurs.

Singapore for example offers the EntrePass (Entrepreneur Pass), which provides business visas to qualifying individuals seeking to start a business in the country, and a competitive business environment, with no capital gains tax, a low income tax, and no fiscal deficit.

While inviting foreign business people and entrepreneurs to Canada undoubtedly contributes to the Canadian economy, an analysis on the income trends of Canada’s economic class immigrants, conducted by CICS News in January, suggests that the full potential of the capital and talent invited to Canada might remain unrealized unless the country’s business environment becomes globally competitive in terms of expected after-tax returns on investment made in the country.

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Vancouver, Canada to Host International TED Conference

The TED conference will be held in the Vancouver Convention centre’s West Building, which was opened in 2009

The annual TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference, a gathering of some of the world’s brightest and most influential thinkers, will be moved to Vancouver in 2014 and 2015, it was announced on Monday.

It is believed that the move will provide a major boost to Vancouver’s reputation as a first class global city and have peripheral benefits in the way of attracting more businesses, innovators and international events to the city.

The annual TED conference started in 1990 and has emerged as one of the most highly regarded public forums for spreading ideas that benefit humanity. It often features renowned speakers, which have included Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, and Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

The topics covered in the talks can relate to any thing ranging from science, to contemporary politics, to economics, to culture, like the harm schools have on creativity and video showcases of creatures in the ocean.

Each ticket to the TED conference costs $7,500, meaning the event’s 1,400 attendees will be a collection of the comparatively very rich and influential, whose visit to Vancouver will doubtlessly raise awareness of the city among global decision makers.

Vancouver’s rising profile

Vancouver has qualities that make it particularly attractive to immigrants and international visitors to Canada, including access to the Pacific Ocean, a mild by-Canadian-standards climate, and the natural beauty of the Coast Mountains.

Its domestic and international popularity and above-Canadian-average population growth rate have persisted for decades, which suggests the trend will continue into the foreseeable future and the city will become increasingly important on the global stage.

TED’s move to Vancouver could be the iconic event that marks its transformation into a World City.

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New Canadian Immigration Program For Entrepreneurs To Launch April 1

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) would like to help Canada create an equivalent to Silicon Valley, pictured above, with a new Start-Up Visa for venture-backed entrepreneurs

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) announced today that the Start-Up Visa, which will grant permanent residence to entrepreneurs who receive funding from Canadian venture capital firms, will launch on April 1st.

“Our new Start-Up Visa will help make Canada the destination of choice for the world’s best and brightest to launch their companies. Recruiting dynamic entrepreneurs from around the world will help Canada remain competitive in the global economy,” said Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney in promoting the new program.

The launch of the Start-Up Visa is part of a re-structuring of Canadian immigration rules to make them more flexible and focused on Canada’s economic needs.

Under the federal government’s new immigration framework, CIC can create immigration programs that are tailored to meet a particular economic need, and admit a limited number of permanent residents through them per year.

The Start-Up Visa, along with the Federal Skilled Trades Program which launched on January 4th, are the first of this new breed of the limited quota, tailor-made programs, and are designed to meet specific shortages in high-growth sectors in Canada’s economy.

Start-Up Designation

In order to qualify for a Start-Up Visa, an entrepreneur must receive funding from an angel investor group or venture capital fund.

CIC will delegate Canada’s Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA) and the National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) the authority to designate members of their associations to be eligible to participate in the program.

The Immigration Department is also working with the Canadian Association of Business Incubation in order to include business incubators in the list of eligible funding organizations.

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