• 188C Business Innovation and Investment visas has recommenced
  • One fund manager expects more demand particularly from Hong Kong
  • Using the scheme to encourage start ups in regional areas an ideal opportunity

As next month’s budget looms, the Morrison government has begun to reissue 188C Business Innovation and Investment visas.

This visa allows people to migrate to Australia on the basis that they will own or manage a business or investment or undertake an entrepreneurial activity. It requires a nomination from an Australian State or Territory government agency.

Certain streams such as the investor stream require minimum investment amounts before being granted. For example, the Investor stream requires at least $1.5 million while the Significant Investor stream asks for $5 million.


Government incentivised to let investor capital in

One advocate of the scheme is Atlas Advisors executive chairman Guy Hedley. He has long argued the scheme would encourage greater investment in Australia.

Speaking with Stockhead yesterday afternoon, Hedley said he was pleased with the decision.

“We’re genuinely pleased they’ve made a decision to re-open everything,” he said.

“We’re still not quite sure what 2020—21 is going to look like. You’ll notice last year 140,000 migrants came and of that less than 7,000 were in the investor visa space.

“This year I think by all accounts the number of migrants who’ll make it in is a fraction of that 140,000 but the investment category is increasing.

“So strategically you would think the government is quite heavily incentivised to bring investment capital into Australia.”


Innovation centres

Hedley admits there might be challenges in ensuring the right asset classes receive investor money, but thinks the mere fact the government started issuing visas again suggests it will continue.

He also suggests the government use it to create technology hubs in regional areas.

“We’ve argued more money should be allocated to start ups – seed based venture capital and particularly regional investment,” Hedley said. “Hopefully the government is listening to that.

“An example, I’ve got Millennial kids, they’re like a lot of people in that late 20s early 30s age bracket looking at ‘do we need to stay in Sydney, Melbourne or go somewhere else?’

“What the government’s got is the fantastic opportunity to do is create almost like innovation centres regionally in Australia.

“Sort of like mini-Silicon Valleys or environmental hubs – just putting up and creating hubs that allow younger people to go and get involved with start ups, venture capital in regions – all that sort of stuff.

“I think there’s a really cool opportunity for the government to think outside the box.”


Hong Kong a target market

Hong Kong’s reputation as a financial haven has deteriorated in recent months, following several months of protests and Beijing implementing new security laws, argued to be eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Hedley said it is true that some high net worth Hong Kongers are looking to leave the city, but Australia had to take proactive measures to become their new home.

“We’re seeing a much bigger demand coming from Hong Kong given everyone in Hong Kong is trying to risk manage their options,” he said.

“The worst case scenario to see is that demand coming out of Hong Kong disappear to Canada, US, UK and Singapore while Australia loses that chance to participate.

“We signalled to the government six months ago this Hong Kong thing would emerge, it’s good to they’re providing a solution that allows that audience to see Australia is an option.”