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'Sweden's pain is the UK's gain': Other countries target entrepreneur set to be deported

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'Sweden's pain is the UK's gain': Other countries target entrepreneur set to be deported
Ahmed AlNomany shows off one of his drones in a mine. Photo: Inkonova
17:32 CEST+02:00
A dealmaker for the UK's Department for International Trade is seeking to bring a drone entrepreneur and his business to Britain after he had his Swedish work permit extension refused for paying himself too little salary.
Anthony Sheehan said he had approached Ahmed AlNomany, the founder of drone company Inkonova and IoT company Batonics, after reading about his problems on The Local
 
"He's a really strong entrepreneur who's onto his second company already and the reason he's been asked to leave is a bit ridiculous," Sheehan, who is himself an entrepreneur, told The Local.
 
"In some ways Sweden's pain is the UK's gain." 
 
Sheehan said he was advising AlNomany, who is now an 'Entrepreneur in Residence' at Swedish tech giant Ericsson, on how to apply for one of the new Innovator visas launched by the UK at the end of March. 
 
With the Innovator visa, entrepreneurs must first get a letter of endorsement from one of 26 Innovator endorsement bodies, primarily startup hubs, accelerators and regional development bodies. Sheehan said the endorsement system reduced the risk that immigrants would set up a company simply as a ruse to gain residency. 
 
"What we did with the previous entrepreneurs visa was to have a financial bar, and it was just a way for rich kids to get here," he said. "The idea now is a two-phase process, the government can't decide who is a good entrepreneur, so they've handed it out to experts in the entrepreneur ecosystem. It's a smart way forward." 
 
Alternatively, he said, he was advising AlNomany to apply for a special talent visa. 
 
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AlNomany, who was born and grew up in Dubai, arrived in Sweden in 2015, setting up a mining drone company Inkonova, based at Stockholm's THINGS startup hub at KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
 
But in 2017 he had his work permit extension refused because he had paid himself too little in the company's early years. He lost his final appeal at the start of this month. 
 
He told The Local he was also in talks with the University of Luxembourg and the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia about relocating there.
 
Sheehan said Sweden was not alone in struggling to tailor its work permit and visa system for international entrepreneurs. "It's not a problem that's unique to Sweden. We see it in different countries and we're not immune from it ourselves," he said.
 
"If you're a native Swede, it's a great place to start a business," he added. "We see a few Swedish entrepreneurs come to the UK, but not many." 
 
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He said Sweden's startup scene was so strong that it would be easy to mimic the UK's Innovator visa and give accelerators a say over who should be granted a work permit. 
 
"There are plenty of groups in and around Stockholm and Sweden who could play that role. It could work."
 
Sheehan, who has his own company developing drone-transported defibrillators, works for a few days a month as a 'deal maker' in the UK Department for International Trade's Global Entrepreneur Programme.  
 
The Global Entrepreneur Programme had brought about 1,000 companies to the UK, primarily from Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe.
 
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