Startup Denmark is a new initiative from the Danish Government designed to attract talented entrepreneurs to Denmark to create and grow their startups there. If accepted by the programme the entrepreneur gets a residence and work permanent for up to 2 years, with the possibility of extending for an additional 3 years.
On the surface, this sounds like a great idea, with the benefits to Denmark clear; talented entrepreneurs coming to the Country stimulating growth, jobs, opportunities and bringing a fresh perspective to problems.
However, it's not the benefits to Denmark that the programme should be focusing on, its the benefits to the entrepreneur.
Tech City UK
It was revealed this week that Tech City UK, a government organisation designed to accelerate the growth of digital businesses in the UK, had only 10 applications in the last 12 months (with 7 successful) with an almost identical offer. Tech City UK was actually allocated 200 visa's by the UK Home Office, yet despite this, only managed to award 7 entrepreneurs the capabilities to work in the UK startup scene.
The blame for this has been heavily laid at the door of 'poor marketing', with other Government backed institutions being more successful in receiving applications, with the Art Council seeing 83 applicants.
There is a clear lesson here. Although making it easier for entrepreneurs to live and work in your Country is a step in the right direction, Countries need to do more than just that. Companies have to battle for talent, so why shouldn't Countries need to?
Chile is a great example of a Country that understands this notion.
Startup Chile is an initiative from the Chilean Government that provides startups with equity-free capital and a temporary 1 year visa as well as access to mentoring and office space. In return participating startups and entrepreneurs are expected to organise and actively participate in networking events and activities that foster entrepreneurship locally.
By providing tangible benefits to attract entrepreneurs to the Country in addition to a visa, Chile has done an excellent job of marketing it's programme and in turn has reaped the benefits, putting Chile on the map as an entrepreneurial hub.
A step in the right direction
There's no doubting that in principle Startup Denmark is a good idea, I have first hand experience of how hard it is to be allowed to come and be allowed to stay in the Country as an entrepreneur and I moved within the EU. Anything that makes it easier for Denmark to accept entrepreneurial talent is a positive move, however, they need to realise it is not as simple as making it easier and expecting the applications to follow. Steps need to be taken to make this an attractive propositions to entrepreneurs when they are choosing where to locate themselves and their startups, and to do that they need to understand that it's not just a case of accepting talent, you need to compete for it.