France is winning (and it's not the world cup)

France is winning (and it's not the world cup)

A few days ago, The French government unveiled a complete overhaul of the French Tech Visa for employees: they are making it easier to come work for a tech company in France.

This is for real, not a PR stunt.

The visa is free, nationality-agnostic, you don't need a diploma, it's valid for four years (and renewable) and processing times are fast to accommodate growth.

The world is slowly closing up borders, and talent is looking for a place to call home. So if a country wants to attract innovation, this is the only way.

Inspired by France, I put together a spreadsheet listing 40+ tech visas for both Founders and Employees.

Feel free to share it around, or check the discussion in Hacker News (it sits at #1 right now, so it should be fun.)

But here's a (not so revolutionary) idea: the EU should create a European Startup Visa.

It's generally accepted that Europe can't compete with Silicon Valley, and for the most part, it's true.

But the US has been losing founders for the past few years due to the immigration bureaucracy, and the problem will only get worse.

Flipkart (acquired by Walmart for $20.78 billion) is an example of a company started by a foreign engineer who quit America and instead started abroad, back in India, as it proved easier.

The same thing goes for the UK. In 2013, seven out of ten entrepreneurs applying for a UK visas were refused.

On top of that, a recent study found that all European markets were expected to experience talent deficits by 2030, resulting in 1.9 trillion dollars of unrealized output across the region.

Europe could set itself apart, generate value and attract talent by implementing a Europe-wide Startup Visa scheme for founders looking to set up shop in the Schengen area.

Here's why a European Startup Visa would kick-ass.

I already talked about virtuous loops but in short, once talent flocks somewhere, more talent follows.

Innovation attracts more innovation, money attracts money and knowledge attracts knowledge.

In addition, a continent-wide initiative would foster and strengthen the region and the Eurozone because attracting global founders is a great way to revitalize local economies.

Startup Chile is a fantastic, real-world example. The program accelerated 1,600 startups and 4,500 entrepreneurs from 85 countries, generated $691 million in revenue worldwide (and $140 million in Chile!), with a combined valuation of $1.4b

More importantly, in the past 6 years they organized 4,600 events with 215,000 attendees.

These global entrepreneurs who flocked to Chile could have come to Europe.

The EU is the biggest market in the world (yes, a lot bigger than Chile).

Even though it's fragmented, it represents a market of 503,000,000 consumers.

Besides, the Schengen area offers a high-quality education system graduating almost the same amount of students each year than the US.

The EU has everything a new startup needs. But we're not alone in the race. The US is slowing down, but Asia is ready for blood.

In the future, new founders will have a choice: Europe or Asia. China, India, and Malaysia are growing at an insane rate, and they know they need talent.

Fortunately, an Asia-wide visa would be an extremely complex ordeal. Europe is in a position to leverage the existing EU agreement and create a continent-wide visa.

I believe we need that first-mover advantage if we want to stay ahead.

What do you think?