Russian-founded immigration platform wins €1 million at Slush, spurring controversy over solidarity with Ukraine

Interesting. Surprising no one has developed a similar platform or app for Canada’s complex immigration system:

Immigram, a UK-based tech immigration platform, has won first prize at Slush, Helsinki’s yearly top tech event.  The Russian-founded startup will receive €1 million in investment coming from top global investors including Accel, General Catalyst, Lightspeed, NEA and Northzone.

Immigram had raised half a million just six months ago, earning trust from Joint Journey and Xploration Capital, two funds with Russian roots, and Mikita Mikado, a top Belarussian entrepreneur who fled his country and now lives in Silicon Valley.

The platform helps IT specialists and their future employers, as well as tech entrepreneurs, navigate the complex UK immigration system. It claims to lower applicants’ refusal rates and time/money losses, and to facilitate new comers’ settlement.

Immigram focuses on the UK Global Talent Visa, which is touted as “the only UK visa based on your experience not your job offer.”

Immigram’s co-founders Anastasia Mirolyubova and Mikhail Sharonov are immigrants themselves, having left Russia several years ago.

Does Russian IT emigration harm Ukraine?

Even though Immigram announced a $100,000 donation to a Ukrainian NGO, the attribution of the Slush prize to a Russian-founded startup shocked some pro-Ukrainian activists.

In a LinkedIn post, Polish VC Yaroslav Krempovych sees in Immigram an instrument for Russians to “escape the consequences of the economic strain imposed on Russia by international sanctions” by emigrating to the UK.

He finds unfair the fact that, “while some startup founders fight and die on the frontlines for the lives of their families and loved ones and their country’s freedom, others seek to assist Russians to escape the repercussions of their acts and inactions.”

According to ‘Olena M.,’ an HR professional from Kyiv, the matter is “absolutely shameful for such an organisation as Slush2022.” Equating the award to “support of genocide,” she hopes it “will have consequences for Slush itself as well as for all the investors who backed this project.”

Neither Krempovych nor ‘Olena M.’ seem to take into consideration the fact that emigration tools like Immigram tend to empty Russia from its best engineers. Hundreds of thousands of IT people have left the country since February 24, which is arguably weakening the Russian economy.

Source: Russian-founded immigration platform wins €1 million at Slush, spurring controversy over solidarity with Ukraine

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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