Can Australia's visa program attract China's angels?
<p>Australian start-ups have long suffered from a dearth of venture capital funding, thanks to the gaping hole left by local superannuation funds withdrawing from the asset class in recent years. But now the country has revamped its Significant Investor Visa (SIV) program, there is hope more wealthy Chinese will park their cash into Australian startups. </p>
<p>The Australian Financial Review (AFR) reports that Chinese investors, spooked by economic volatility back home, are lapping it up so far. In the first three months since the program relaunched, investors have put in 70 SIV applications worth $350 million of investment in the past three months. </p>
<p>VC don’t get all that money but Chinese investors must put at least 10% of their minimum 5 million Australian dollars ($3.5 million) into VC, while 30% needs to go into small listed companies. Its an improvement on the last visa program which was launched in 2012 but then suspended by April, 2014 because of abuse. Most of the money was going into low risk assets. </p>
<p>So far their is only about $24.7 million potentially available to startups through the scheme. Not a lot but it’s a strong start. Andrew Martin, managing director, at Moelis, which is managing some of these new investments, told AFR: <br />
"The old scheme was producing around 50 visas a month [$3 billion in annual investment] and we believe it will get back up to that level over time."<br />
Wishful thinking? Perhaps, but the government is not only one betting on China's appetite for Australia. Sapien Ventures, set up in July, is looking to get a slice of a the pie by raising 50 million australian dollars from this the predicted Chinese angel influx.<br />
Photo: Paul Bica</p>