13 January 2021
In the coming decades, information and communication technologies (ICT) will radically influence the global economy – and Cyprus is positioning itself to be at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Already home to several international tech companies, Cyprus has made unprecedented moves in recent years to secure its future as both an established international business centre and an emerging tech hub.
Several major international ICT companies currently have their regional and global headquarters in Cyprus including: NCR, a world leader in consumer transaction solutions; Amdocs, a leading multinational software and services provider; Wargaming, a world-renowned video game developer; and Viber, the popular online communications platform which started in 2010 by a team of foreign nationals that was bought four years later by Japanese giant Rakuten for $900mn. International heavyweights such as Microsoft, SAP, Oracle and IBM have had a presence in Cyprus for a number of years, and the island has gradually become a prime location for the fintech industry, providing a home for some of the world’s biggest forex brokers and online-trading platforms.
As a result, ICT has now become a priority growth sector for the government and as such it enjoys increased support from the state in the form of national strategies to integrate innovative tech as well as incentives to attract IT start-ups and regional headquarters. In a post-pandemic world, ICT provides a means to increase productivity and economic growth in Cyprus and the government is actively courting some of the sector’s brightest stars to headquarter their operations on the island.
New Immigration Framework for Tech companies
Fully adopting a set of recommendations put forward by Invest Cyprus, one of the most recent overtures made to entice tech investors was decided by the Council of Ministers on 7 October 2020.
Besides the right to employ up to 15 third country nationals as directors and middle management executives, Tech companies will also be entitled to employ any number of qualified third country nationals, who possess wanted ICT skills. The specialists cited in this amendment are:
· software and system engineers;
· application and data architects;
· ICT and enterprise solution architects;
· technical assurance professionals;
· telecom and space engineers;
· data scientists;
· machine learning engineers;
· web developers and designers;
· UX user experience professionals;
· quantitative analysts;
· quality assurance analysts;
· mobile application developers;
· augmented reality or virtual reality programmers;
· digital marketing specialists;
· video production multimedia specialists for mobile apps and software;
· analysts for mobile apps and software
· designers of prototype for mobile devices;
· DevOps engineers;
· cyber security specialists;
· AI, robotics and big data specialists.
The maximum number of third-country nationals that may be employed under this New Immigration Framework for Tech companies ranges according to their annual turnover. For companies with an annual turnover of more than €30mn a special category allows for relocating up to 200 non-European specialists with a simplified procedure which could take up to 6 weeks for granting the working permits.
The key benefits for companies under this new framework include:
· no restrictions on the maximum duration of stay of third country nationals;
· no requirement to secure a sealed employment contract from the Department of Labour for third country nationals;
· third country nationals with residence and employment permits will have direct access to family reunification with their spouse and minor children, provided that the necessary conditions of the relevant legislations are met;
and temporary residence and employment permits will be issued when the entry of the third county national into the Republic was made with a visa rather than by securing entry via the Civil Registry and Migration Department.
One-stop complementary services
Invest Cyprus, the national investment promotion agency, will be the body responsible for due diligence checks on all international companies wishing to make use of this New Framework and should be the first point of contact for all foreign investors and international companies looking to relocate or expand their business to Cyprus. Newcomers can also benefit from Invest Cyprus support services, providing information about all aspects of operating a company in Cyprus, including the business activation licensing needs. As an established international business center, Cyprus hosts a vast number of law, accounting and other firms, offering value for money top quality professional services which the foreign investor can benefit from.
Any international company wishing to use Cyprus as its next location, receives full a 360 support and facilitation and it is fully guided throughout the relocation process. Invest Cyprus, offers comprehensive, one-stop complementary services, which are always tailored to meet potential and existing investor’s needs. Its mission is to help foreign investors grow their business and improve their competitiveness and its services offered to international companies and more specifically to tech companies exploring Cyprus as a location for establishing operations, include amongst others the provision of information services and investment preparation, investment proposals and organising of site visits, negotiation with public authorities, support with recruitment and other relocation needs and aftercare services.
A Growing European Tech Hub
Invest Cyprus is the promotional powerhouse that has been relentlessly and successfully strengthening Cyprus’s image abroad regarding investment potential.
Headed by George Campanellas, the agency is implementing a five-year plan aimed at attracting the best of the best to cement the island’s growing reputation as a regional business centre and a vibrant tech hub ready to promote some of the world’s most innovative talents. Even with the challenges of the recent year, the organization has remained true to its vision, courting high quality tech companies capable of contributing to the economy and the labour market while bringing spill-over benefits to the island, such as knowledge transfer and innovation.
Working in close collaboration with all government authorities and public institutions, as well as the private sector, Invest Cyprus is the country’s leading agent when it comes to establishing Cyprus as a growing Tech Hub and a world-class destination for international business activity and foreign direct investment, offering unique inroads into high-value growth sectors.
The world is changing and with Europe fast becoming a tech haven for talent and companies, Cyprus provides a “very safe and attractive” destination for tech firms and third country investors, says Mr Campanellas.
“We are now taking enquiries from tech companies on a daily basis,” he revealed. “We have visited California and other tech hubs in the US, and cities in Israel, Ireland and Eastern Europe countries and we can see that Cyprus is well positioned to become among the top European destinations for setting up regional headquarters and development centres”. We do believe that Cyprus will grow fast into a tech cluster, with tech businesses taking advantage of the many benefits our country offers.”
Advertorial published in Cyprus Mail