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UK Innovator Founder Visa: Detailed Guide about Endorsing Bodies and their Requirements

The Innovator Founder Visa

The UK Innovator Founder Visa, introduced on April 13, 2023, replaces the Innovator Visa and Start-up Visa, offering a more straightforward path for entrepreneurs with pioneering business ideas to establish and expand their ventures in the UK. Unlike its predecessors, this visa focuses on the innovative potential and creativity of business concepts rather than requiring a specific initial investment amount. This approach attracts a diverse pool of global talent keen to contribute innovative ideas to the UK's business landscape, fostering collaboration among entrepreneurs worldwide.

One of its distinctive features is the clear pathway to UK permanent residency after three years, encouraging long-term commitment and investment in the country's dynamic business environment. With access to leading universities, research institutions, venture capital, and a multicultural talent pool, visa holders can effectively scale their businesses and drive collaborative innovation.

Moreover, the visa offers flexibility, allowing entrepreneurs to explore additional employment opportunities beyond their primary business pursuits. This flexibility promotes cross-sector collaboration and knowledge sharing. Overall, the UK Innovator Founder Visa not only supports individuals in achieving their entrepreneurial ambitions but also enhances the UK's global standing as a center for innovation and collaboration, fostering partnerships that transcend international borders.

Role of Endorsing Bodies

In the framework of the UK Innovator Founder Visa, endorsing bodies hold a critical role in the application process by evaluating and endorsing entrepreneurs with innovative business concepts. These endorsing bodies are organizations authorized by the UK government and cover a spectrum of sectors and expertise areas relevant to business innovation. Their primary task involves conducting thorough assessments of proposed business ventures. This evaluation encompasses various aspects such as the uniqueness and potential impact of the business idea, its market feasibility, scalability prospects, and the entrepreneur's capability to effectively execute the business plan.

The endorsement provided by these bodies serves several pivotal purposes. Firstly, it validates the credibility and potential of the entrepreneur and their proposed venture under the strict criteria stipulated by the visa program. This endorsement is not merely a formality but signifies that the business idea is recognized as innovative and has substantial potential to contribute positively to the UK's economy and business landscape. Secondly, it acts as a gateway for entrepreneurs to access a broad range of resources within the UK's entrepreneurial ecosystem. This includes access to funding opportunities, mentorship networks, business support services, and connections to industry experts and collaborators.

By leveraging the endorsement from these bodies, entrepreneurs can navigate more effectively through the complexities of establishing and scaling their businesses in the UK. It also enhances their credibility when engaging with investors, partners, and other stakeholders within the UK market. Ultimately, endorsing bodies play a crucial role in attracting and supporting international entrepreneurial talent, thereby bolstering the UK's reputation as a global hub for innovation and fostering economic growth through cutting-edge business ventures.

Securing Innovator Founder Visa and Eligibility Criteria

Developing a convincing business plan is a critical requirement for acquiring the Innovator Founder Visa UK, as it plays a pivotal role in gaining endorsement. A well-crafted business plan significantly boosts the chances of securing this essential endorsement.

Key criteria for developing an effective business plan include:

  1. Innovation - Your business idea should introduce a unique idea to the UK market that is challenging to repeat. 
  2. Viability - The plan should showcase the potential of your business idea, demonstrating expertise, experience, and comprehensive market analysis.
  3. Scalability - Highlight the potential for growth and expansion of the business. Outline strategies for scaling the business, creating jobs, and entering national and international markets. Emphasize the demand for the product or service and detail plans for expanding production and sales.

Innovator Founder Visa UK Endorsement

A strong business plan results in approval from a recognized UK entity, confirming your business as innovative, feasible, and full of potential.

The business plan should include: 

  • Clearly articulated business idea - Be able to describe your business idea, its innovative aspects, and how it meets market needs.
  • Demonstrated potential impact - Show how your business could positively impact the UK market, including job creation, economic growth, and contribution to the industry.
  • Highlighted personal expertise - Emphasize your role in the business and your background or expertise that makes you uniquely suited to lead the venture to success.
  • Gathered supporting documentation - Prepare to present any documentation that supports your business idea, including market research findings, financial projections, and any work or prototypes you have developed.

Required documentation: 

  • Passport and travel history
  • Endorsement letter from the approved endorsing body
  • Business plan and any supporting evidence of market research or potential customer engagement
  • Financial evidence showing sufficient personal savings and business funding
  • Proof of English language proficiency
  • Any other documents required by the specific visa category or requested by the endorsing body​​​​

The endorsement letter must confirm that:

  • You're considered suitable to receive endorsement according to the rules of the Innovator Founder route.
  • The endorsing body has no concerns about the legitimacy of your investment funds or how they were transferred.
  • There's no reason to believe that you or your business might be involved in illegal or suspicious financial activities.
  • Your business plan is based on 3 key criteria: innovation, scalability and viability. 

Innovator Founder Endorsing Bodies

Innovator International

This endorsing body specializes in helping global entrepreneurs develop successful businesses throughout the UK, across every sector. Their mission is to enable entrepreneurs to achieve their business targets and realize their full potential. Whether founders are looking to progress their existing visa or establish a new business in the UK, this organization offers comprehensive support tailored to their needs. To establish new business in the UK, founders must showcase: 


  • A summary of the offering and how it differs from existing products or services?
  • Who benefits from the offering and how?
  • Is there regional, national or international competition - who are they and how do they compare?
  • What is the current state of development of the product or service, e.g. MVP stage?


  • How will the project establish itself and grow within the UK?
  • How will the project establish itself and grow internationally?


  • The access to the intellectual, physical and financial resources to make the project a success.
  • What are the financial requirements for this project, and how these funds are being provided, e.g personal funds

 Business plan should include: 

  • Market Assessment
  • Product Fit
  • Marketing & Sales
  • People and Skills
  • Operational Planning
  • Financial Planning

Founders seeking to progress their existing UK Innovator Founder Visa, should show: 


  • The applicant must have made a significant progress against a previously endorsed business plan


  • The applicant’s business must be registered with Companies Houses and the applicant must be listed as a director or member of that business. 
  • The business must be active, trading and sustainable. 


  • Progress and achievements at each stage of the business development. 

Additional documents 

The founders must provide: 

  • Progress report
  • Plan for the coming years
  • Evidences and demonstrations 

Envestors Limited

Approved by the Home Office, this endorsing body supports the growth of innovative businesses and founders in the UK. They work alongside a network of expert partners in mentoring, accounting, legal services, etc.Their services include: 

  • Business formation
  • Immigration compliance
  • Accountancy
  • Settlement roadmap
  • Fundraising 
  • Business advisory 

UK Endorsing Services

UKES is a UK Home Office approved Endorsing Body. Their services include: 

  • Helping in establishing new business
  • Previous endorsement extension processes 
  • Settlement in the UK
  • Navigating business scale-up route  

Their main requirements: 

  • Full supporting documentation ( Business & financial plan, CV, passport and proof of address)
  • Accurately completed application form
  • Evidence of funds 

The Global Entrepreneurs Programme (GEP)

The Global Entrepreneurs Programme (GEP), managed by the Department for Business and Trade, is a government initiative designed for internationally tech-based entrepreneurs.GEP provides visa endorsements exclusively for founders who have been invited to participate in their program.Their services include: 

  • Providing business with an Innovator Founder Visa endorsement 
  • Scaling businesses
  • Developing funding strategies
  • Navigating the UK ecosystem

Requirements for Participation

  • The business must be beyond the proof-of-concept stage.
  • The business should not currently have a presence in the UK (only overseas companies are supported).
  • The business must be generating or on the cusp of generating revenues, ideally with strong intellectual property (IP).
  • There must be a strong willingness to relocate the global headquarters to the UK, with at least one co-founder based there.
  • The business must have clear plans for building and growing the company in the UK, including fast growth and the creation of high-skilled jobs.

Resources for Additional Support and Information

For entrepreneurs seeking additional support and information regarding the UK Innovator Founder Visa, several key resources are available to facilitate a successful application and integration into the UK's entrepreneurial ecosystem:

UK Government Guidance: The official UK government website provides comprehensive guidance on visa requirements, eligibility criteria, and the application process for the Innovator Founder Visa. This resource offers up-to-date information, application forms, and details on how to find an approved endorsing body.

Endorsing Bodies: Approved endorsing bodies play a crucial role in the visa application process by evaluating and endorsing innovative business ideas. Entrepreneurs should research and contact relevant endorsing bodies that align with their business sector or innovation type. These bodies often provide detailed criteria for endorsement and may offer guidance on preparing a strong business proposal.

Business Support Organizations: Various organizations in the UK specialize in supporting startups and entrepreneurs. These include business incubators, accelerators, and innovation hubs that provide mentoring, networking opportunities, access to funding, and workspace. Examples include Tech Nation, London & Partners, and regional innovation hubs across the UK.

Legal and Immigration Advice: Engaging with immigration lawyers or advisors specializing in UK immigration law can provide tailored guidance on visa applications, compliance requirements, and navigating potential challenges. They can offer insights into specific legal considerations related to establishing and running a business in the UK.

Networking and Events: Attending networking events, workshops, and industry conferences in the UK can help entrepreneurs build connections, gain industry insights, and stay updated on trends and opportunities within their sector. Events hosted by endorsing bodies, industry associations, and business support organizations are particularly valuable.

Universities and Research Institutions: Collaborating with universities and research institutions in the UK can foster innovation and provide access to cutting-edge research, technology transfer opportunities, and skilled talent through programs like Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) and university incubators.

Seeking assistance in your journey from the UK Innovator Founder Visa to relocation to the UK?

Tech Nomads offers personalized strategies and full support in navigating the UK Visa processes. 

Tech Nomads is a global mobility platform that provides services for international relocation. Established in 2018, Tech Nomads has a track record of successfully relocating talents and teams. Our expertise in adapting to regulatory changes ensures our clients’ satisfaction and success.

To explore your UK relocation options, you may:

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