Endorsing Bodies and 5 things Innovator Visa entrepreneurs need to know about them

Are you an entrepreneur looking for an Endorsing Body for the Innovator Visa Scheme?

Or are you wondering why you need Endorsing Bodies in the first place? 

This article will lay out what an Endorsing Bodies are and how they can benefit you, your visa application and your business.

For those who aren’t sure, the Innovator Visa Scheme facilitates the arrival of experienced entrepreneurs and their new and exciting businesses to the UK. 

What do Endorsing Bodies do?:

Endorsing bodies are existing successful companies that have been chosen by the government to help decide which Innovator Visa applications from Non-UK entrepreneurs have the greatest potential. The Government has acknowledged that these bodies are best placed to judge the prospects of these businesses. 

If an Endorsing Body likes and sees potential in a business idea from an applicant then they will write an endorsing letter detailing their belief in the applicant’s business plan. As previously stated because the Endorsing Bodies will be experts in business, the letter will carry a lot of weight. 

With a successful innovator Visa application the Endorsing Bodies will have checkpoints to catch up on the business after 6,12 and 24 months. It is essential that successful applicants attend these checkpoints – which can be in person or via phone or video call. 

For applicants looking to stay longer than 3 years and would like an extension to their visa then they would need another endorsement – most commonly from their existing Endorsing Body. This, as well as the expertise and relationship you gain from contact with your Endorsing Body, is why you must attend your checkpoints.

The Endorsing Bodies will need to see the sustained interest in your company’s venture. They can withdraw their endorsement if they see negligence to the business and Innovator Visa leading to the end of your residency in the UK. 

Why you need an Endorsing Body:

Endorsing Bodies add huge weight and value to your Innovator Visa application. These companies have been trusted by the government to be experts in their fields and therefore their opinion matters.

Not only is gaining an Endorsing Body crucial to the application process of the Innovator Visa Scheme, but it is also crucial after the application is successful. The Endorsing Body can offer support, knowledge and experience throughout the visa period and at the scheduled checkpoints. 

The relationship with the Endorsing Body will give your business an extra boost, helping it fulfil its potential as it looks to grow and become sustainable in the UK. The 1-2-1 support your new business will receive could be crucial to your company’s success. Sometimes having an experienced expert outside-eye can help give your company the boost it needs.

What Endorsing Bodies are looking for:

Endorsing Bodies are looking for new and exciting businesses to endorse and with that entrepreneurs that can make the company achieve success in the UK. There has to be clear evidence of strategic planning for the new business and a strong potential for growth. 

 The applicants will be judged on this three-part criteria: 

  • Innovation – The applicant must demonstrate that the proposed business is unique and is seizing upon a gap in the market that can, in turn, create sustainable profit. 
  • Viability – Simply, is the proposed business plan achievable? The resources and assets of the entrepreneur will be taken into consideration when assessing this. The applicant will also have to prove their level of knowledge, experience and expertise in their proposed field to prove the viability of their business plan. 
  • Scalability – There needs to be evidence of meticulous planning which highlights the expected progression of the company after the successful application. Will the company create new jobs and have a growth strategy to move the business into national and, even better, international markets?

It’s worth knowing that for the Innovation Visa the applicant must have already £50,000 in investment funds for their new company and have at least £1270 in a personal bank account for the previous 28 days before the application.

Both of these financial requirements would have to be proven.

Which Endorsing Body should you choose:

An important part of your Innovator Visa process will be choosing which Endorsing Body to seek endorsement from. There will be varying options.

You must do your research into the different bodies and what they expect and accept from applicants. 

It’s also advisable to research and contact an Endorsing Body that has experience in a similar field to your potential business. This will allow your business plan to be seen in its full potential as the Endorsing Body will understand the area of business and market you’re looking to move into.

The time of your application as well as the geographical area you are looking to create your base in the UK may also affect which Endorsing Body you decide to contact.  

How to apply for an Endorsing Body:

It is very simple. All you need to do is find a registered Endorsing Body and get in contact to discuss your Innovator Visa application, your business plan and a potential endorsement.

Caveat: These details were correct at the time of publication and see the GOV website for the current situation.

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran six of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.