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SA Govt announces first entrepreneur visa recipient

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An Italian sommelier hoping to design a computer program that links local food producers with tourists will become the first recipient of a new State Government-backed entrepreneurship visa.

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Industry Minister David Pisoni will today announce Italian national Simone Berliat as the first recipient of the new three-year visa, which is part of a national pilot program being trialled in South Australia.

The State Government launched the trial – called the Supporting Innovation in South Australia (SISA) – in November last year and provided $400,000 over four years to support it.

Berliat will work alongside Adelaide-based technology start-up The Moonshine Lab to develop an “agritourism” business that links tourists with food producers wanting to offer accommodation packages. Under the model, tourists would stay and volunteer at a farm or winery to develop their understanding of the food and wine industry.

Berliat, who is currently living in South Australia on a student visa and who has previously worked as a business manager at Oxenberry Farm in McLaren Vale, said agriculture tourism businesses were not yet represented in the global marketplace.

“As a solution, I hope to develop a physical and digital platform for this niche, where agritourism businesses can easily source both customers and suppliers,” he said.

“South Australia is wine country and I first came here to be around the best-known producers but with my student visa ending, I had no choice but to prepare to return to Europe and develop the business there.

“In my situation this new entrepreneur visa is perfect.”

Berliat said the intention was to create a website and phone app where customers could search for different agritourism businesses. He also hopes to develop a service to help producers introduce agritourism to their business.

Thirty entrepreneur visas will be awarded to people wanting to develop their business ideas in South Australia this year, with a further 300 to be offered through to 2022.

Pisoni said the immediate response to the program had been “impressive”.

“Hosting entrepreneurs like Mr Berliat brings fresh ideas and great value to the local innovation eco-system, it creates jobs and makes a significant contribution to the state’s economy,” he said.

The announcement follows two South Australian councils – Adelaide City Council and the City of Port Adelaide Enfield – unanimously pledging their support to expand a Federal Government sponsorship program for refugees.

Adelaide City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted in favour of a motion put forward by south ward councillor Dr Helen Donovan for the Lord Mayor to write to Immigration Minister David Coleman to request an expansion of the Federal Government’s widely criticised Community Sponsorship Program.

The program, launched in May 2017, provides a model whereby community members or groups are able to raise funds to sponsor visas for refugees who wish to begin the process of rebuilding their lives safely in Australia.

But Donovan argued the program was “ineffective” and “expensive” because it failed to provide sufficient incentive for people to raise money to support a refugee who would otherwise still be granted residency in Australia.

Area councillor Robert Simms, who seconded Donovan’s motion, told Tuesday night’s meeting that it was “core business” for the council to advocate for action on issues such community-led immigration programs.

“I consider it to be a real blight on our country, the fact that we have an immoral immigration process,” he said.

“This is an opportunity to look at an alternative and to give more pathways for people to come in.”

Deputy Lord Mayor Houssam Abiad said he also supported the call, adding the council needed to consider population growth more broadly.

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