Canadian and French Policies to Attract Entrepreneurs and Researchers Impacting Silicon Valley
Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security delayed the International Entrepreneur Rule to next March, and it is currently accepting comments on plans to rescind it altogether. The agency cited logistical challenges in vetting these new visas. The International Entrepreneur Rule was designed by the Obama Administration to support Silicon Valley and the high tech industry’s need for immigrant entrepreneurs and engineers. Immigrant entrepreneurs in the U.S. account for 44% of all startups. The news has prompted a backlash from immigrant entrepreneurs like PayPal cofounder Max Levchin and leadership at the National Venture Capital Association, who argue that rolling back the rule will drive would-be job creators to other, more welcoming nations. This is already happening.
Canada’s Global Talent Stream Visa Program For Immigrant Entrepreneurs Targets U.S. Immigration Policy
To Silicon Valley observers, Canada has always seemed incapable of igniting a technology-driven economy, despite years of the government support for telecommunications, and a byzantine maze of government grant programs for research and development. Canada has remained a laggard in R&D investment compared to other OECD industrialized nations. Venture capital and government tax policy in Canada seemed to have a focus on short-term tax deductions rather than long-term gains as in California. Then there was the demise of Nortel and the decline of Blackberry. There may be a new opportunity to bootstrap Canada into the high-tech industry big league: Trump Administration immigration policies that are already impacting Silicon Valley. Not long after Justin Trudeau’s Liberals came to power in 2015, Trudeau sensed the opportunity to exploit Trump’s anti-immigration stances and the Liberal government swung into action to create the Global Talent Stream visa program specifically designed for rapid immigration for entire entrepreneurial teams. Since that time Trump has fulfilled his promises by slashing the H1-B visa program and announcing the end of the Obama Administration’s Startup Visa Program. Immigrant enrollments at U.S. universities is already down over 40%. Startup Genome, the acknowledged global leader in entrepreneurial ecosystems rankings, currently ranks Vancouver and Toronto 15th and 16th globally in its 2017 study, but those in the know acknowledge that Canada still lacks crucial technology ecosystem capabilities. Nevertheless, Canada may be on the verge of a technology tidal wave.
Macron Determined To Make France “A Startup Nation” With Major Technology Initiatives
In 2015, long before Emmanuel Macron’s launched his campaign for the Presidency of France, as a minister in the Hollande government, Macron launched a significant new technology initiative, The Camp, on a seventeen-hectare campus just outside Aix-en-Provence, designed to inspire new thinking on crucial technology issues, and to incubate new entrepreneurial companies. The Camp will open officially this Autumn. Now that Macron has swept the country in a stunning Presidential victory, it is clear that technology and entrepreneurship are crucial elements of his vision for France, backing it up with a 10B € technology-based economic development fund. The South of France generally, the Cote d’Azur and Provence are emerging as France’s technology center. France’s nuclear research facility, Cadarache, just northeast of Aix-en-Provence, is the equivalent of California’s Lawrence Livermore Labs, and the home of ITER, the European nuclear fusion project. Prior to Macron’s 2015 launch of The Camp, the government had already established the Sophia Antipolis technology park near Nice, as a center for advanced telecommunications research and entrepreneurial start-ups.
The Camp, Aix-en-Provence
As if to underscore France’s rise on the global stage, France has recently leapfrogged the U.S. and Great Britain as the world’s new leader in “soft power,” the ability to harness international alliances and shape the preferences of others through a country’s appeal and attraction.