By Ben Sullivan
A new visa scheme aimed at luring startups to Israel has been introduced by the Israeli Ministry of Economy.
The program will allow entrepreneurs and investors to work on technology startups in the country for up to two years.
Dubbed “Innovation Visas for Foreign Entrepreneurs,” the program will grant two-year visas to foreign entrepreneurs and investors who can show that their startups will be economically prosperous for Israel. After the two years, the visa holders will be eligible to apply for an “Expert Visa” in the hope of staying indefinitely.
Israel has traditionally been a hotbed for technological startups, especially in the area of financial services. An area along the coast of Israel is dubbed Silicon Wadi, named after the high concentration of technology companies based there, just like its Silicon Valley counterpart.
In September, Microsoft acquired cloud security startup Adallom for approximately $320 million. Last year, Adallom helped organizations thwart a variant of the Zeus malware that targeted Salesforce users. In 2013, security researchers at the company discovered an Office 365 token vulnerability that could be potentially used to compromise an enterprise’s SharePoint site.
The new visas will offer a lucrative chance to border-hopping tech startup hopefuls, as Israel has previously had strict rules on employment visas. Currently, employers have to prove when hiring from overseas that an Israeli citizen does not possess the same job skills.
For Israel, the visa scheme is a way to increase its standing on the international technology stage.
“Israel is known in the world as a center of innovation and development and we must retain this position,” said Israeli Minister of Economy Aryeh Deri.
“The innovation visa will enable foreign entrepreneurs from all over the world to develop new ideas in Israel and this will help the local market grow and improve our standing in the world.”
The entrepreneurs’ work in Israel will take place through twelve frameworks in different technology fields, which will be selected by the Office of the Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy.
The supportive framework will give the entrepreneurs a workspace, physical and technological infrastructure, professional support and exposure to Israel’s atmosphere of innovation, according to the Ministry of Economy.
“We are creating today another means of increasing productivity and competition in the market,” said Israeli Ministry of Economy Director General Amit Lang.
“Foreign entrepreneurs who will arrive in Israel will bring new ideas and different methods of working and thinking which will grow Israel’s atmosphere of entrepreneurship and innovation, which is among the leading in the world. I believe that any initiative that will succeed in this framework will create new jobs and help increase production and growth in the market.”