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How to Use the UK Innovator Founder Visa to Establish an AI Tech Business


AI Technology in the UK

The UK Government’s “Research and Analysis: AI activity in UK businesses – Executive Summary” report shows that in 2020, 432,000 UK companies that had already integrated AI spent a total of £16.7 billion on AI technologies. The average expenditure was £9,500 for small businesses, £380,000 for medium businesses, and £1.6 million for large businesses.

According to projections, expenditure on AI technologies could rise to between £27.2 billion and £35.6 billion by 2025, with annual growth rates of approximately 10% and 16%, respectively. In the central scenario, expenditure would increase from £16.7 billion to £30.3 billion, representing a compound annual growth rate of 12.6%. Overall, between 2020 and 2040, expenditure on AI technologies is expected to rise from £16.7 billion to £83.5 billion at a compound annual growth rate of 8.4% in the central scenario.

The UK is also home to a number of leading AI startups and companies, including DeepMind, BenevolentAI, and Graphcore, among others. These companies have attracted significant investment from both domestic and international sources, and have helped to position the UK as a key player in the global AI industry.

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking to establish an AI tech business in the UK, the Innovator Founder Visa might be the perfect solution for you. This visa is designed specifically for entrepreneurs who want to set up an innovative business in the UK and is an excellent opportunity for anyone looking to capitalise on the rapidly growing AI market in the UK.

What is a UK Innovator Founder Visa?

On April 13th, 2023, the UK Innovator Founder Visa replaced the current Start-up and Innovator visa routes, as the UK government announced changes to its immigration rules regarding visas for entrepreneurs and innovators on March 10th, 2023. The new route, unlike the existing Innovator route that mandates a minimum investment of £50,000, does not have any such requirement. The Innovator Founder route will also see the closure of the Start-Up visa. The UK government intends to attract skilled foreign specialists with innovative business ideas but limited financial resources, who may have found it challenging to meet the high investment fund requirements of the previous Innovator visa, by introducing a single visa path for both young entrepreneurs and experienced founders.

To help you get started, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to use the UK Innovator Founder Visa to establish an AI tech business in the UK.

UK Innovator Founder Visa

Step 1: Eligibility test

Before you start the visa application process, it’s essential to check that you meet the eligibility requirements.

Applicants for the Innovator Founder visa must meet specific requirements related to their business plan to be eligible. These include contributing significantly to the ideas in the plan and demonstrating their commitment to carrying out the business plan. Aspiring applicants should be aware of the requirements to score at least 70 points for eligibility.

UK Innovator Founder Visa requirements:

• Business Plan Preparation: The most crucial requirement with the most points at stake is having a detailed business plan and being the generator or having made a significant contribution to the ideas in the plan. This requirement is worth 30 points.

• Business Plan Innovation, Scalability, and Viability: The plan should address new or existing market needs, create a competitive advantage, and be realistic and achievable with the available resources. This requirement carries 20 points.

• English Language Proficiency: You must demonstrate your proficiency in the English language, with this requirement carrying 10 points.

• Financial Stability: You must have enough funds to support yourself while in the UK, worth 10 points.

However, the initial visa application does not have a minimum capital requirement.

Step 2: Develop a Business Plan

Once you’ve confirmed your eligibility, it’s time to develop a business plan. Your business plan should outline your AI tech business’s mission, target market, financial projections, and growth strategy. It’s essential to have a solid business plan as it will be a crucial part of your visa application.

Requirements for an Innovative, Viable, and Scalable Business:

• Develop an authentic and original business plan that fulfills new or existing market needs and/or generates a competitive advantage.

• Ensure that the business plan is achievable and realistic given the available resources.

• Possess or be actively acquiring the necessary skills, knowledge, experience, and market awareness to operate the business successfully.

• Provide evidence of organized planning and the potential for job creation and expansion into national and international markets.

Tech Nomads will assist you in preparing a successful business plan and MVP, helping with selecting an endorsing body and improving your pitch deck.

Step 3: Apply for Endorsement

Once you have a solid business plan, the next step is to apply for endorsement. You can apply for endorsement from one of the authorised bodies listed on the UK government’s website. When applying for endorsement, you will need to provide a copy of your business plan and explain how your business idea meets the criteria for innovation, viability, and scalability.

Step 4: Apply for the Visa

If your endorsement application is successful, you can proceed to apply for the Innovator Founder Visa. You will need to complete an online application and provide supporting documents such as your passport, business plan, and endorsement letter. You will also need to pay the application fee and healthcare surcharge.

Step 5: Establish Your Business in the UK

Once you’ve obtained your visa, you can start to establish your AI tech business in the UK. You will need to register your business with Companies House and apply for any necessary licenses and permits.

You’ll also need to set up a bank account for your business and start recruiting employees. The UK has a thriving AI tech industry, so you should have no problem finding talented and experienced professionals to help you build your business.

Establishing an AI tech business in the UK can bring many benefits, including:

Supportive Business Environment: The UK has a supportive business environment that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship. The government offers various incentives and tax breaks to startups and small businesses, making it easier to establish and grow a business.

Access to World-Class Talent: The UK has some of the world’s leading universities, which attract talented students and researchers from all over the world. Additionally, the country’s technology sector has experienced significant growth in recent years, with skilled and talented immigrants coming on a Global Talent Visa, playing a crucial role in shaping the job market in this field. This means that you’ll have access to a pool of skilled and knowledgeable professionals to help you build your AI tech business.

Thriving AI Tech Industry: The UK has a thriving AI tech industry, with many established and successful businesses operating in this sector. This means that there are opportunities for collaboration, networking, and partnerships with other businesses in the industry.

Strong Regulatory Framework: The UK has a strong regulatory framework for AI technology, which provides clarity and stability for businesses operating in this sector. This means that you’ll have a clear understanding of your obligations and responsibilities as an AI tech business owner, which can help you avoid legal issues and protect your business’s reputation.

Access to Funding: The UK has a vibrant startup ecosystem, with many investors and venture capitalists willing to invest in innovative businesses. This means that you’ll have access to funding opportunities to help you establish and grow your AI tech business.


The Innovator Founder Visa is an excellent opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to establish an AI tech business in the UK. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can maximise your chances of obtaining the visa and successfully setting up your business in the UK. With the UK’s supportive business environment, world-class universities, and a thriving AI tech industry, the opportunities for growth and success are vast.

To receive a comprehensive consultation, we request you to take our AI-generated test
that will evaluate your eligibility for the Innovator Founder Visa and your prospects of establishing an AI tech business in the UK.