Barely a month goes by without news of yet another Aussie who\nhas made it big in Silicon Valley: Fintech start-up Credible, Bitcoin wallet\nSnapcard, indoor locationing innovator Navisens to name but a few.The phenomenon of Australia\u2019s best minds leaving these shores\nfor the US \u2013 the so-called \u2018brain drain\u2019 \u2013 is a cause of serious concern among\nthe local tech community. It\u2019s \u201ccompletely and utterly a disaster\u201d according to\nfintech chief Jost Stollmann of Tyro Payments. It's "an absolute crisis" said Freelancer.com CEO Matt Barrie in April.\u201cThere is still\u2026 a massive talent drain issue that needs to be addressed,\u201d says LinkedIn Australia\u2019s MD Clifford Rosenberg. \u201cMuch of the world-class talent that we do create is migrating to other countries to seek better opportunities.\u201dAt last count, 2,300 ICT\nworkers left Australia for employment overseas. People with STEM degrees are\nalso leaving Australia in significant numbers, according to LinkedIn figures.Demand outweighs supply and the imbalance is growing every day.\nThe gap is currently being filled by foreign workers, with around 22,000 arriving to work in ICT\noccupations in the 2014\/15 financial year.The government has acted to \u201cget the skills that businesses need now\u201d by setting aside $2 million in its Innovation Agenda to \u2018refine visa settings\u2019. But with more companies\nembarking on major digital transformations both here and overseas this may be a\ncase of too little too late. And the rising living costs in tech hubs like\nSydney put potential senior candidates off, says Atlassian\u2019s Mike Cannon-Brookes.\u201cThere is a lot of talk about the lack of tech talent in\nAustralia, and quite rightly so,\u201d says Suzanne\nGerrard, director of IT recruitment agency Greythorn Australia. \u201cAs technology continues to infiltrate\nevery business and sector, the need to have skilled staff to drive\ntransformation projects as well as business as usual application of tech,\ncontinues to grow.\u201dBut is the problem really as bad as some say? Has the \u2018brain\ndrain\u2019 been overstated? Perhaps Aussies abandoning their homeland for\nSilicon Valley is a good thing for the country?Aussie mafia\u201cI don't see it as a huge issue. If anything, it should be\nencouraged,\u201d says Australian Andrew Roberts. \u201cAn active expat community helps\nAustralia and Australian companies.\u201dAustralian Andrew Roberts, CEO of EphoxRoberts is CEO of Silicon Valley-based Ephox, who provide\nWYSIWYG editing and content creation SDKs. He moved from Brisbane to the US to\nbe closer to the company\u2019s biggest customers. With a competitor gaining market\nshare he \u201cfelt we were missing out\u201d by not being in the US, plus he adds: \u201clike\nmany young Australians, I wanted to live and work overseas for a while\u201d.Ephox\u2019s success in Silicon Valley is positive for Australia,\nRoberts says: \u201cMy company has created dozens of high-paying tech jobs back in\nAustralia as a result of me moving to Silicon Valley. We wouldn't be\nas successful as we were if we hadn't invested a lot of time and money into\ninternational markets.\u201dRoberts is one of around\n20,000 Australian expats \u2013 collectively known as the \u2018Aussie mafia\u2019 \u2013 living and working in the southern San Francisco Bay area. Some have been there for years, others come and\ngo."They are some of the smartest people you will meet,"\nsays Roberts. "And Australians, in general, remain humble and easy to get\nalong with even if they have had some success."The sentiment is echoed by Australian Ernest Semerda, founder of productivity app GSDfaster and cofounder and CTO of Medlert, a logistics and communication platform for hospitals and ambulance providers, based in Silicon Valley."Even though today, a product can be engineered and\ndistributed using online channels from any location in the world, I don't\nbelieve we should stop people moving overseas,\u201d he says. Aussie Ernest Semerda, CTO and co-founder of MedlertThe Sydneysider had always dreamed of working in the Valley,\n"the mecca of technology" and made the move in 2009. "I believe\nthat if you want to get serious in your industry you need to be where the\naction is: Silicon Valley for technology, LA for the movie industry, New York\nfor fashion and so on," he said.If the hard work of building a business can be "expedited\nthrough an overseas startup community then we should encourage it," he\nsays. "When the founders get to the growth phase, then make it fruitful\nfor them to come back to Oz to grow their business locally."Ripe for return?When launching the Innovation Agenda in December,\nPrime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: \u201cWe want to make sure we retain and gain\nthe best human capital that we can.\u201d There were a raft of measures aimed\nat creating an \u201cinnovation nation\u201d that was an attractive place to do tech.In April, Kelly O'Dwyer, then small business minister, was in\nNew York speaking at a 'Down Under New York' event for Australians working in\nthe city. "I don't think we should be concerned that people go over to the\nUnited States and New York and get experiences and learn new things,\u201d she said,\n\u201cas long as we create the right environment for them to return and they are not\ncompelled to go as an only option."But is Australia the \u2018right environment\u2019 for them? If Australians\nthat head for Silicon Valley end up returning, having grown their skills and\nexperience, perhaps with capital and drive to set-up or expand businesses\nlocally, it can only be a good thing for the nation.With a shortage of capital investment, sky-high living costs, lack of STEM grads, an increasingly boring main city\nand pedestrian internet speeds - it\u2019s a big if.What do you think? Let us know your view by commenting below, or take part in the conversation on LinkedIn: CIO Australia, Twitter: @CIO_Australia or Facebook: CIO Australia.