Israeli Innovation Visas: Start-up Nation is opening its door to talented foreign entrepreneurs from all over the world

Without any doubt one of the most precious assets of Israel is country`s start-up business culture. It is indeed a huge variety of supportive frameworks available for entrepreneurs from both government and private sector that makes Israeli economy one of the most innovative economies in the world. From high-tech start-ups to progressive neurotechnologies – Israel`s politics is to provide support to perspective innovations of all kinds to maintain position of country as a global leader of start-up innovations.

Recently Israeli officials aim to strengthen position of Israel as a global leader of innovations and start-up culture by enacting a new type of visas called the Innovation Visas. Innovation Visas are designed with a goal to become more than a mere administrative measure. They can be actually perceived rather as a complex program with many long-term benefits for entrepreneurs. Therefore entrepreneurs who are granted Innovation Visas can be seen rather as ‘participants’ than ‘visa holders’. Innovation Visas create suitable legal framework which motivates foreign entrepreneurs to develop their projects and ideas in their early stages directly in Israel. Israeli government expects that Innovation Visas will attract talented entrepreneurs with knowledge, experience and groundbreaking ideas from the entire world to work in Israel.

Israel's Innovation Authority

Whole framework of Innovation Visas has been in drafting process for more than one year. It supposed to be ready in the first half of this year. Concept of Innovation Visas was born in the offices of Israeli Innovation Authority. This public body was formerly known as the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Economy Ministry. The Authority is in charge of the nation’s innovation policies and aims to accumulate resources and create good conditions to promote the nation’s innovative ecosystem. Not long ago the CEO of Apple’s Israel activities, Aharon Aharon, has been appointed to lead Israel’s Innovation Authority.

Why is it worth to apply for Israeli Innovation Visas?

Innovation Visas will enable the entrepreneurs to stay in Israel for 24 months while receiving different kinds of support from both public and private organizations previously only available to resident entrepreneurs. Also to each participant one mentor will be assigned (officially named as ‘Landing Pads’). Mentor can be an experienced organization which role will be to help inventors with development of their ideas, at a pre-seed stage. Other important task of a mentor will be to introduce a participant to key business players in particular industry or investors. Mentor will naturally try to connect a participant with potential business partners. Selection process of mentors - Landing Pads is still running. Companies will be chosen carefully by Israeli Innovation Authority. After Landing Pads are selected and listed on the officialpages of Innovation Visa program, foreign entrepreneurs may apply to the relevant Landing Pads expertise of which matches with their projects.

Another major initiative related to Innovation Visas program is opening the Israel`s Innovation Authority’s Tnufa program for participants. Tnufa program was designed by the Innovation Authority specifically to help inventors with great ideas at a pre-seed stage. Successful Innovation Visa applicants are entitled to receive a grant up to 85% of approved expenses associated with such services as prototyping, registering a patent, and designing a business plan (maximum threshold of 1 grant is 50,000 USD).

From Innovation Visa to Expert Visas

If Innovation Visas participants decide to transform their early stage business ideas into business reality, for example by establishing company in Israel and launching their products on Israeli market or by further development of an idea in Israeli company, they would be eligible to apply for the Expert Visa, which would give them full access to Israeli innovation grant programs. Expert Visa also enables their holders to reside in Israel for next 5 years.

Israel's Innovation Visa – FAQs

When can I submit my application for Innovation Visa?

The program should be open for applications in early 2017 when the screening process for Landing Pads (mentors) is completed.

Do Innovation Visas serve also as work permit?

Innovation Visa are not a work permit. Their purpose is different and that is to enable more talented innovators to live and develop their innovative ideas in supportive environment directly in Israel. However, after 2 years on an Israeli Innovation Visa, if an entrepreneur desires to continue to develop the approved project while employed or by starting a new business in Israel as a shareholder, he can apply for an Expert Visa which are connected with work permit.

Does the Israeli Innovation Visa apply also to family members?

Not directly. If an entrepreneur wishes to come to Israel with immediate family members (spouse and children up to the age of 18), he must submit applications for them in accordance with Tourist Reservation procedures.

Do you want to find out more about Israeli Innovation Visas?

Do not hesitate and contact our Conbiz Information Center. Our consultants based in Israel are native speakers familiar with Israeli administrative systems and processes. Therefore they can help you with your visa application or with other way of entering Israeli market.