Entrepreneurs setting up in the UK

Updated 22 August 2018

This guidance was withdrawn on

Department for International Trade withdrew this publication because it was out of date.

We’ve replaced it with a new version. Get support to move your tech business to the UK.

1. Overview

If you’re looking to start or expand your company in another country, the UK is an ideal place. Reasons for this include:

  • the UK has one of the lowest corporation tax rates in the G20
  • you can register a company within 48 hours
  • the labour force is the second largest in the Europe
  • the UK government offers support to start-ups and entrepreneurs

Government support for start-up companies and entrepreneurs includes access to mentoring programmes and funding through working with the private sector.

2. Help for start-ups and entrepreneurs

Introduction to Global Entrepreneur Programme

The Department for International Trade’s (DIT) Global Entrepreneur Programme (GEP) helps overseas entrepreneurs and early stage technology businesses or start-ups that want to relocate their business to the UK.

The programme has so far helped to:

  • relocate 340 businesses to the UK
  • create over 1,000 jobs in the UK economy
  • raise over £1 billion of private investment for companies

Support is free and includes:

  • help to develop business plans
  • assistance with relocating to the UK
  • providing introductions to investors
  • guidance on how to grow internationally
  • mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs
  • continued help once located in the UK

In return for this support, overseas entrepreneurs are encouraged to set up their headquarters in the UK.

2.1 How it works

To qualify for GEP support, you must be:

  • an overseas based entrepreneur or technology business
  • looking to establish your global business headquarters in the UK

A team of 19 successful entrepreneurs, known as ‘dealmakers’, will help people set up and expand their businesses from the UK.

Email for more information about the GEP programme.

3. Endorsement for an entrepreneur visa

Entrepreneurs with businesses which have high growth potential can apply for an Entrepreneur visa to come to the UK. To do this they need to have received funding of at least £50,000 from an approved organisation (venture capital firm, UK government, or through a DIT endorsed seed competition).

DIT has endorsed certain Seed Competitions which support applications for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa for entry to the UK.

Seed funds and accelerator programmes wanting to know more about endorsement requirements should contact DIT by emailing

3.1 TechStars London

TechStars classes itself as the number 1 start-up accelerator in the world. They are very selective – whilst thousands of companies apply each year, they only invest money and time in about 10 companies per program location. Their selection rates are lower than the Ivy League, so you have to be among the best to earn investment from TechStars.


3.2 Oxygen Accelerator

Oxygen Accelerator is a tech accelerator. A 13-week intensive mentor led bootcamp, followed by 13 weeks of incubation that culminates with a series of investor days where they help you pitch to a large, carefully selected group of Angel investors, VCs and Private Equity groups for next stage funding. They receive applications from all over the world and hand-pick the very best 10 teams to work with per programme.


3.3 Seedcamp

Seedcamp is an early-stage micro seed investment and mentoring programme which makes investment decisions several times throughout the year based on the winners of its events.

Seedcamp was created to jumpstart the entrepreneurial community in Europe by connecting next generation developers and entrepreneurs with over 600 mentors from a network of company builders; including seed investors, serial entrepreneurs, product experts, HR and PR specialists, marketers, lawyers, recruiters, journalists and venture capitalists.

Following investment, a new Seedcamp company is included in an intensive year-long programme of events focusing on all the aspects of company’s development.


3.4 Wayra

Wayra UK is part of Telefónica Open Future, the open programme that integrates the different initiatives of the whole Telefónica Group related to entrepreneurship and innovation.

Wayra UK gives direct funding, acceleration and pre-acceleration services to selected start-ups, such as:

  • co-working space
  • connectivity services
  • mentoring
  • access to Wayra UK’s network and knowhow, training in entrepreneurship and business skills

Since its launch in 2012, Wayra UK start-ups have raised over $110 million in third-party investment.

Wayra UK has partnered with some of the world’s leading organisations to offer a number of verticals that help generate growth, create positive societal impact and fuel innovation across a number of industries. Wayra UK also works alongside local and regional partners to reinvigorate entrepreneurial ecosystems, energise local economies and democratise entrepreneurship.

Email or visit

3.5 Collider

Collider is a B2B brand accelerator dedicated to startups which help brands understand, engage with and sell to customers. By mobilising a pot of cash, a crack team of coaches, mentors and brands, and a packed intensive programme, they are able to support startups to grow into sustainable businesses. Over the course of a year-long programme, the teams transform from startups to businesses, from cash burning to revenue earning, putting them on the road from MVP to IPO.


3.6 Entrepreneur First

Entrepreneur First (EF) is Europe’s leading pre-seed investor in deep technology startups. They work with the world’s most talented technical individuals and support them to build deep technology companies from scratch in London. EF’s unique approach allows them to fund individuals at the very earliest stage - often even before the team is formed or the idea fully developed.

Their 6 month programme provides comprehensive support to enable technical entrepreneurs to build a team, validate an idea, develop an initial product and raise follow-on investment.

EF is particularly interested in founders who want to solve hard technical problems. Their alumni are having an impact in fields such as artificial intelligence, drones, security, virtual reality and the blockchain and have raised funding from the world’s leading venture investors.


3.7 Emerge Education Accelerator

Emerge Education is a 3 month, London based accelerator programme for startups aiming to improve educational outcomes worldwide.

Email Lynn-Evans, Venture Hunter or Dan Bell, Programme Producer.

3.8 StartPlanet NI

StartPlanet NI focuses on a number of core activities to develop the team, the business model and the potential to gain follow-on funding. Centrally they aim to build positivity and energy around start-ups by combining a global outlook with domain expertise to help each of their companies succeed with ambitious and positive futures.

StartPlanet NI is a 12 week mentor led tech accelerator culminating in a demo day in front of a select guest list of global investors. This is combined with a further 24 weeks free work space where the Accelerator Team will continue to work with you to achieve rapid growth. Each successful start-up business that successfully secures a place on the programme will receive an initial seed investment of £20,000 in return for an equity sacrifice of 6%, with a further £250,000 of equity funding available for each cohort.

Following graduation from the accelerator, you will join our alumni programme that will seek to maintain contact and support you where possible throughout your journey to success.

To apply, or just speak to a member of our team call Diane, Wayne or Linda on 02895 320101 or email

3.9 Pi Labs

Property Innovation (Pi) Labs is Europe’s first venture capital platform that invests in early stage ventures exclusively in the proptech vertical. This is done via a pre-seed 13 week intensive mentor led programme that accelerates the growth of exciting property start-ups as well as later stage investments from seed to Series A level.

The Pi Labs accelerator was founded to help ambitious property innovators transform their ideas into revenue-generating businesses. Their in-house property expertise will help to incubate, accelerate and build the tech-enabled property startups of the future.

Email, to apply or for more information.

3.10 Founders Factory

Founders Factory is a corporate backed accelerator and incubator in London, set up by serial entrepreneurs Brent Hoberman (, MADE.COM) and Henry Lane Fox (SmartUp, Founders Intelligence) and has strong links to Founders Forum.

Some of the world’s leading corporates, across 6 sectors, have invested in Founders Factory:

  • easyJet (travel)
  • L’Oréal (beauty)
  • Aviva (fintech)
  • Holtzbrinck (education)
  • Guardian Media Group (media)
  • CSC Group (artificial intelligence)

The 50+ operations team, many of whom are tech entrepreneurs themselves, offers hands-on, full time support to the startups within its accelerator programme, over 6 months.

Support is offered across product, strategic marketing, investor relations and business development as well as the opportunity of commercial partnerships and deep market insights from its corporate investors.

Founders Factory accepts applications from early stage technology companies across the world.

Visit or email for more information.

3.11 Deep Science Ventures

Deep Science Ventures is backed by the Wellcome Trust. It brings together multidisciplinary groups of scientists and engineers twice a year and supports them in starting highly innovative science companies.

They select candidates for the programme pre-team, pre-idea and provide 6 months of funding (around £110,000 per team) as well as access to a stream of key insights into potential opportunities, tailored content, frequent contact hours and desk space.

They have designed the programme which specialises in science sectors such as material science, robotics and biotech.

Their team, advisors, networks and facilities are geared to give these sorts of companies the unique support they need, which differs significantly from digital, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and AI ventures.

They have well over 1,000 applicants each year for their programmes, which take place both in-person in London and globally online.

Email for more information or to apply.

3.12 Zinc

Zinc helps founders build commercial tech businesses with a social impact. Founders join a 9-month programme to build their brand new business from scratch, including finding their co-founder and securing follow-on investment.

Each programme has 50 places for creative entrepreneurs and each cohort has a diverse mix of tech, business, design, science and professional skills. Throughout the programme, founders are provided with funding, a co-working space in central London, credits for tech services and access to experts, mentors and investors.

Over 80% of the businesses created at Zinc have had at least 1 female founder, and half of the founders have been non-UK nationals. Zinc is backed by a combination of Europe’s leading Venture Capitalists, angel investors and universities.


3.13 Tech X

Aberdeen-based Oil & Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) has launched its own technology accelerator, TechX.

The TechX Pioneer Programme supports start-up companies and entrepreneurs with potentially game changing technologies. It offers access to significant funding, expert mentors and global partners to help develop and validate new technologies. TechX supports pioneers to ensure they are both technology and investor ready.

The accelerator is a 16 week intensive programme, split across education and knowledge transfer, master classes from academia and entrepreneurs, as well as providing unprecedented access to industry.

The OGTC also offers a 12 month bolt-on incubator, named TechX+. This is designed as a ‘post-accelerator support environment’ created to fulfill the needs of the businesses emerging from various initiatives delivered by TechX.


4. Apply for an entrepreneur visa