Innovator Founder Visa guide

A comprehensive guide to the new Innovator Founder Visa

Kurt GraverBusiness Start-up Advice

A comprehensive guide to the new Innovator Founder Visa, including eligibility requirements and application process

The UK government has introduced a new visa route called the Innovator Founder visa. Designed for foreign nationals wishing to establish a business in the UK, this route replaces the old Innovator route and closes the Start-up route to new initial applications. 

The Innovator Founder visa offers a more flexible provision for entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas and sufficient funds to deliver them. This blog post will provide an in-depth look at the Innovator Founder visa, eligibility requirements, and application process.

Innovator Founder Visa Overview

The new Innovator Founder visa shares some key requirements with the old Startup and Innovator visas, specifically in innovation, viability, and scalability. These criteria ensure that the business ideas brought forth by applicants have the potential for success and growth, contributing positively to the UK’s economy. 

Below is a description of each criterion


An innovative business idea introduces new products, services, or processes not already available. It should demonstrate originality, creativity, and the potential to disrupt existing markets. This criterion ensures that the proposed business contributes to the UK’s economic growth by bringing unique and forward-thinking ideas.


Viability refers to the practicality and feasibility of the proposed business idea. The applicant must demonstrate a well-thought-out plan to execute their innovative concept and that the business will likely succeed. This includes having a clear business model, understanding the target market, and having the relevant skills and experience to lead the business.


Scalability is the ability of a business to expand and grow over time. This means that the business idea should have the potential to create jobs, increase revenues, and penetrate national and international markets. This criterion ensures that the proposed businesses contribute to the UK’s long-term economic development by providing employment opportunities and fostering global competitiveness.

With a 3-year duration, this visa requires applicants to meet with their endorsing body after 12 and 24 months to demonstrate progress. Extensions are possible for additional 3-year terms with no limit on the number of extensions. After three years, applicants may be eligible for settlement.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for the Innovator Founder visa, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  •    Be at least 18 years old
  •    Prove their knowledge of the English language
  •    Demonstrate sufficient personal savings to support themselves in the UK

Application Process

Applicants must apply online for an Innovator Founder visa and prove their identity by visiting a visa application centre or using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app. Decisions on visa applications typically take three weeks for applicants outside the UK and eight weeks for those inside the UK.

Application Fees

Applying for an Innovator Founder visa costs £1,036 from outside the UK or £1,292 from within the UK. The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is £624 per person per year (£470 for under 18s). Applicants must also show they have at least £1,270 in personal savings.

Permitted Activities:

Innovator Founder visa holders can establish and work for their businesses, including director or self-employed roles. They may also undertake skilled work outside their business (minimum RQF Level 3).

Endorsement Process

Before applying, applicants must obtain an endorsement from an approved body, confirming their business idea is new, innovative, viable, and scalable. Endorsement criteria include evidence of job creation and growth potential in national and international markets.

You can find a list below.

Innovator Founder Business Plan

To secure an endorsement for the Innovator Founder visa, applicants must present a comprehensive and well-researched business plan to an approved endorsing body. The business plan is a crucial document that will demonstrate how the proposed business meets the criteria of innovation, viability, and scalability. Below is an outline of the key components to include in a business plan for this purpose:

Executive Summary: Provide a brief business overview, highlighting the innovative aspects, target market, and growth potential. This section should be concise and engaging and offer a clear understanding of the business concept and its unique value proposition.

Company Description: Detail the background and structure of your business, its mission and vision, the problem your business aims to solve or the opportunity it seeks to address. Explain how your business differs from existing competitors and why it is necessary in the market.

Market Analysis: Conduct thorough research on your target market, including market size, trends, customer demographics, and competitive landscape. Identify the market gaps that your innovative business aims to fill and demonstrate a clear understanding of customer needs and preferences.

Innovation Explanation: Clearly outline the innovative aspects of your business, such as new products, services, processes, or technologies that differentiate it from existing market offerings. Explain how your business will disrupt the market and create lasting customer value.

Viability Assessment: Present a realistic and achievable operational plan, including sales and marketing strategies, resource requirements, and financial projections. Demonstrate your understanding of the regulatory environment, potential risks, and mitigating strategies to ensure the long-term success of your business.

Scalability Strategy: Explain how your business can grow and expand over time, both in size and market reach. Outline your plans for job creation, revenue growth, and market penetration nationally and internationally. Provide a roadmap for scaling up operations, including potential partnerships, acquisitions, or franchising opportunities.

Management Team and Experience: Describe the skills, expertise, and experience of your management team, highlighting their ability to lead the business to success. Include details about their past achievements, industry knowledge, and network connections that can contribute to the growth of your business.

Financial Projections: Include detailed financial forecasts, such as profit and loss statements, cash flow projections, and balance sheets, for at least the first three years of operation. Demonstrate that you have a realistic understanding of the financial aspects of your business and can secure the necessary funding to support its growth.


The Innovator Founder visa presents an exciting opportunity for foreign entrepreneurs with innovative, viable, and scalable business ideas to launch their ventures in the UK. By understanding the visa’s requirements and preparing a comprehensive, well-researched business plan, applicants can significantly improve their chances of securing the endorsement needed to obtain this visa.

In this blog, we have explored the key aspects of the Innovator Founder visa, including its similarities to the previous Startup and Innovator visas, eligibility requirements, the application process, and the importance of a strong business plan. As the UK continues to foster a thriving business environment, the Innovator Founder visa is a valuable gateway for entrepreneurs to contribute to the nation’s economic growth and development.

If you’re an entrepreneur considering applying for the Innovator Founder visa, this guide has provided valuable insights and a better understanding of the process. By taking the time to research and plan your business thoroughly, you can successfully navigate the application process and embark on a rewarding entrepreneurial journey in the UK.

The Innovator Founder visa offers a promising pathway for foreign entrepreneurs to launch their innovative businesses in the UK. A well-researched and comprehensive business plan is crucial in obtaining an endorsement from an approved body, and SGI Consultants is here to help you with that.

At SGI Consultants, our experienced team has a proven track record of success in crafting bespoke business plans for entrepreneurs seeking to endorse body approval. Having written over a hundred business plans for the Startup and Innovator visas, we pride ourselves on our high success rate and extensive knowledge of the application process. Our strong relationships with various endorsing bodies further enhance our ability to guide you through the process and maximise your chances of success.

Please visit the link below to learn more about our business planning services and how we can help you secure your Innovator Founder visa. We invite you to contact us for a free consultation, where our experts can assess your business idea and discuss the best approach to achieving your entrepreneurial goals in the UK.

With SGI Consultants by your side, you can confidently navigate the Innovator Founder visa application process and embark on an exciting and rewarding journey as an entrepreneur in the UK.

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