The new Innovator Visa route offers a great option for those who are looking to move to the UK to start a business. Replacing the now-defunct Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa, the Innovator Visa has taken into account some of the main problem areas of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa, such as the level of seed funding that had been required, alongside redesigning the visa route to ensure it produced better outcomes all-round. One of the main revisions was the addition of endorsement for the business idea. Previously, entrepreneurs had to produce a business plan assessed by a UK Visas and Immigration official so they could decide the validity of the idea as part of the application process.
Clearly, this was always going to cause problems.
So if you are looking to gain an Innovator Visa, you are going to need an endorsement, but who do you turn to? Hopefully, this article should clear up the confusion by providing a current list of bodies who you can turn to for endorsement. Please note, you should talk to the bodies who are clearly aligned with your business type; i.e. do not apply to a tech endorsement body if your idea is not in that particular sector.
The Bakery - The Bakery endorses bonafide entrepreneurs who qualify for their corporate innovation programmes.
Bethnal Green Ventures - BGV is an early-stage investor in tech for good companies who only endorse start-up entrepreneurs accepted onto their support programme.
Capital enterprise - a tech-focused accelerator currently only accepting applications from their community.
CyLon - works with emerging cybersecurity companies or entrepreneurs planning on setting up an innovative cyber start-up.
Deep Science Ventures - works with scientists and engineers determined to start a deep science company.
Founders Factory - Founders Factory is an award-winning tech startup accelerator and incubator who endorse entrepreneurs joining one of their programmes.
Ignite - is another tech-focused accelerator who offer an environment to allow new businesses to thrive.
Invest Northern Ireland - Invest NI endorses entities for Start-up/Innovator Visas via participation on its Accelerator Program or requests from Client companies only. This is a great option for those who are looking at the growth potential Northern Ireland has to offer.
Kollider - Kollider is a high growth business incubator. They endorse members with innovative ideas in the creative, digital and tech sectors expected to scale in their markets within 24 months. As many companies are purely tech-focused, Kollider offers a great opportunity for those in creative fields.
Level 39 - Level39 only endorses those involved in FinTech, cybersecurity, smart cities, retail tech and other globally ambitious tech business.
MDR LAB - MDR LAB is an accelerator for tech start-ups in the legal space. They only endorse migrants accepted onto their 10-week May-July programme. This is a very specific niche sector but is perfect for those within it.
MedCity - supports collaboration, investment, entrepreneurship and industry within the life sciences across Greater South-East of England.
NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator - The government backed bank offers a complete suite of options for would-be entrepreneurs across the UK. They can also help with financing which is a big plus in this area.
Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneur Accelerator - As part of the same group as NatWest, RBS offers a very similar suite of services as the NatWest offering.
Scottish EDGE - Scottish EDGE can endorse winners of its bi-annual funding competition for innovative, high-growth potential Scottish businesses. Approx. 6% of applicants win. Options may be limited for those businesses outside of South-East England, Scottish EDGE offers great options for businesses interested in the Scottish market.
Seedcamp - invests early in world-class founders attacking large, global markets and solving real problems using technology. Again, another tech-focused accelerator that is helping to make the UK home to the world’s best tech entrepreneurs.
SeedHaus - are specialists in the fields of Cybersecurity, Robotics, HealthTech, IoT/Wearables, Logistics, MarTech, and AdTech. They help to get businesses off of the ground and offer a network of entrepreneurs to help each other's businesses grow together.
SETsquared Bristol - SETsquared Bristol incubator endorses technology start-ups meeting entry criteria to their incubator and looking to establish an office in Bristol. SETsquared is a partnership between several institutions that have helped to get over 200 businesses off of the ground. If you are looking to base your business in Bristol, SETsquared is an ideal place to start.
Startup Funding Club - offers angel investing and business support to those looking to get their business off of the ground. They have worked across a diverse range of sectors to get great businesses the funding and the support they need.
Tech Nation - Tech Nation focuses on entrepreneurs of product-led digital technology businesses and commences work. They will begin to support the Innovator Visa endorsement scheme as of September 2019.
Techstars London - Techstars is a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars runs two accelerator programs in London: Techstars London and Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars.
Tech X - is an accelerator & incubator for global start-ups looking to transform the Energy Sector – offers unparalleled funding and support. If you are looking to disrupt the lucrative energy sector, Tech X is a great place to get started due to unparalleled industry knowledge.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh - only provides an endorsement to their awardees who have received an RSE Enterprise Fellowship.
Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator - works in a similar way to RBS & NatWest’s offering. Ideal for entrepreneurs based in Northern Ireland.
Wayra - works across 10 countries to provide a global reach for would-be entrepreneurs. Supported by big businesses such as Novartis and Telefonica, Wayra works across a number of sectors to allow entrepreneurs to grow quickly and gives them access to a huge number of potential customers.
Zinc - this accelerator is looking for business ideas that are in line with their 3 main missions: Improving girls’ and women’s emotional and mental health, unlocking new opportunities for those affected by globalisation and automation and adding 5 more years to human life spans. For businesses that are about taking on huge social challenges, Zinc is the perfect option.
For more information on these endorsement bodies, you will need to contact them directly. For more information on the Innovator Visa and immigration advice, contact our solicitors for a free no-obligation immigration consultation to see how we can help you in your entrepreneurial mission.
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