Canada: Poaching Entrepreneurial Talent in Silicon Valley?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Canada: Poaching Entrepreneurial Talent in Silicon Valley?

Commuters on Silicon Valley's Highway 101 are greeted by a new billboard. It targets tech entrepreneurs, whose companies suffer from an acute shortage of specialized U.S. work visa in the H-1B category. The bottleneck, so the complaint, makes it difficult for tech companies to recruit qualified tech workers from abroad.

The billboard promises a way out - a way out of Silicon Valley:
Umh, yes. But it's cold.

The billboard promotes a new Canadian permanent residency program, which was launched on April 1st. It tries to lure foreign entrepreneurs over the northern border, by offering them permanent residency status comparable to the U.S Green Card - regardless whether their startup subsequently succeeds or not (more information here)

"The American system is pretty dysfunctional"

Still - Silicon Valley may have a visa problem, but it also has less snow. So there may be some extra convincing required. That's why Canada's minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, currently tours the San Francisco Bay area Friday on a four-day visit.

Always the good neighbor, he doesn't leave a doubt about what he's up to. In an interview with The San Jose Mercury News, Kenney didn't mince words.

"I think everyone knows the American system is pretty dysfunctional," he told the Merc. "I'm going to the Bay Area to spread the message that Canada is open for business; we're open for newcomers."

Canada has been successful in luring American TV series productions away from Hollywood. Will tech start-ups follow suit, and flock up north?

What do you think - should he be heard? Will he be heard?

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