Immigration policy 'needs to push for foreign start-ups'
A GOVERNMENT adviser has criticised Ireland's immigration rules as "a challenge to entrepreneurship".
Daniel Ramamoorthy, who has just been appointed to the Government's new Entrepreneurship Forum, said Ireland's immigration policy needs to do more to encourage foreign start-up companies to come to Ireland.
Mr Ramamoorthy is from India and came to Ireland to complete an MBA at Trinity College in 2010. He stayed on under a government programme for foreign high-potential start-ups, which can grant residency to non-EU nationals.
The company must be headquartered and controlled in Ireland, capable of creating 10 jobs here, and reaching sales of €1m in three to four years to qualify.
New foreign-owned businesses developed in Ireland include mobile games company Two Paper Dolls, started by American Louis Ravenet, and medical technology company Global Diagnostics, founded by Australian Johnny Walker.
Non-EU business people and their families can also gain Irish residency through the Immigrant Investor Programme. This requires a minimum €500,000 investment commitment to an Irish public project, business or bond.
"I was one of the first people endorsed under this scheme," he told the Irish Independent this week. "While it is a fantastic programme, most people have never heard of it."
He said he did not speak to a single person during the application process – "it needs to be more personalised".
He added that the Government's approach to helping start-up companies is too fragmented and needs to be consolidated.
Mr Ramamoorthy is working on a project called Treehouse, which facilitates youth entrepreneurship and innovation. He was previously a director of a global investment fund. He also presents for Dublin radio station Spirit.
This week he was announced as a member of the Department of Jobs' Entrepreneurship Forum, led by Dragons' Den investor Sean O'Sullivan. Other members include DIT professor Tom Cooney and crisps-maker Tom Keogh.
The forum is tasked with designing a national policy for assisting start-up companies by the end of this year. A consultation process where the public can contribute ideas has already begun.
The Department of Jobs says two-thirds of all new jobs are created by start-ups.