In March 2019, the government brought in two new types of visas, the Start-up visa and the Innovator visa, designed to attract startup founders to the UK with a fast-track approval process. This was followed by the Global Talent Visa in February 2020, which provides a similar fast-track for individuals with sought after skills, particularly in STEM fields.
Capital Enterprise, alongside TechNation and other key organisations from the UK startup ecosystem, were designated as official ‘endorsing bodies’ with the ability to recommend applicants to the Home Office for approval. With our involvement in the programme winding down at the end of this year, we wanted to look back on what has been achieved.
Since these visas were introduced, Capital Enterprise has endorsed more than 100 entrepreneurs for the Start-up and Innovator visas, thus helping to bring 30 startups and counting to the UK from around the world. Whereas the past decade saw the UK develop as a type of offshore hub for European innovation, with London attracting a wave of talent from all over the EU and companies such as Wise choosing to base themselves here, what comes through most strongly from the list of companies we have endorsed is their worldwide character.
We received more than 300 applications overall, with the largest number of entrepreneurs and companies endorsed coming from Asia. Others have arrived from Iran, Nigeria, and Ghana, with a not-insignificant number of companies from Canada, Australia, and the US. Europe continues to be well-represented with founders from Russia, the Netherlands, Italy, and Malta.
No less diverse are the business models they bring with them, from a company that describes itself as the DAO of the space industry to an innovative farmtech platform promising to make agricultural yields more predictable, another company planning to revolutionise supply chain data using Bluetooth labels, and a Web3-based club for racquet sports.
It’s still early days for many of these companies, but what can be said without a doubt is that the introduction of the Start-up and Innovator visas have proven to be a major bright spot for the UK’s tech ecosystem during a time of significant change. Alongside the Global Talent Visa, they play a critical role in ensuring that ambitious, high-skilled workers from all over the world can continue to come to the UK. Access to talent is one of the prerequisites for building and sustaining a world-class tech cluster, and we are proud of the role we have played as the UK continues to compete for the best international talent.
Image credit: this image was created by the Stable Diffusion text-to-image generator from the prompt “A hand holding up a passport with an airplane in the background”