POTENTIALLY $100 million could be immediately unlocked to provide a life line for startups, entrepreneurs and emerging companies which are being crippled by the COVID-19 crisis, if applications under the Significant Investor Visa (SIV) program were reopened.
Executive chairman of Atlas Advisors Australia, Guy Hedley called on the Australian Government to give urgent priority to fast-tracking capital flows under the SIV program.
Mr Hedley said there were probably around 40-50 final stage applications under the SIV program that had been stalled since travel restrictions were imposed.
“This could provide up to $100 million in urgently needed funds which could save many startups and emerging companies from closure,” Mr Hedley said.
Since travel restrictions were imposed no visa approvals have been granted enabling these investors to fulfill their complying investment obligations under the SIV program.
Applicants should be permitted to execute their investment obligations while delaying their physical stay in Australia until travel restrictions are lifted, he said.
“An unintended consequence of this is that startups do not have access to money that would otherwise have been available,” Mr Hedley said.
“As a result, the financial health and wellbeing of many Australian start-ups is at stake and unnecessary failures of great entrepreneurial and employment-generating companies could result.”
University-backed investment fund Uniseed and venture capital fund Follow[the]Seed have united with Atlas Advisors Australia, a top SIV fund manager, to call for measures to help startups.
“Reopening approvals under the SIV program would fulfill the program’s original intent to support thin capital markets,” Mr Hedley said.
The COVID-19 crisis follows a serious drop in early stage venture capital investment in recent years.
“Atlas Advisors Australia has allocated more than $40 million to early stage venture capital investors from SIV investors,” Mr Hedley said.
“However, we cannot meet growing demand for early and seed stage ventures who now find themselves heading for the rocks through no fault of their own.
“The Australian Government should harness the opportunity now to support local startups starved of growth capital because of the devastating impact of COVID-19.”