What are the Start-up and Innovator Schemes?

The Start-up and Innovator visa categories are for non-European Economic Area nationals wishing to set up a business in the UK. To qualify for a visa, applicants must obtain an endorsement from an approved endorsing body - such as Sapphire Capital Partners LLP.

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What is the Start-up visa?
  • For early-stage but high potential entrepreneurs (who want to start a business in the UK for the first time);

  • No funds are required (applicants do not need any funds to invest in their business at this stage);

  • Two-year visa offered (it offers a one-off, two-year visa, during which the applicants will spend the majority of their time developing their businesses but can also take on other work outside of their businesses to support themselves);

  • You can bring your family members (successful applicants can bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18 can be brought into the UK); and

  • Switch to Innovator visa (at the end of the two years, applicants can switch into the Innovator category - see below - to extend their stay and develop business in the UK).

What is the Innovator visa?
  • For more experienced business people (who seek to establish a business in the UK);

    £50,000 required (applicants need a minimum of £50,000 funding available to invest in their business - which can come from an endorsing body such as Sapphire Capital Partners LLP);

  • You must work 100% on the business (innovators must work entirely on developing their business ventures and not take on other employment outside their business);

  • Three-year visa offered (applicants are granted leave for three years at a time);

  • You can bring your family members (successful innovators can bring their family members (spouses/partners and children under 18 can be brought into the UK); and

  • Extend your stay (successful innovators can apply to extend their stay for a further three years or to settle permanently in the UK).

Thinking about applying for the visa? We're here to help you...



We assess your business against the three key criteria: Innovation, Viability and Scalability.

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If successful we will issue you with the required Home Office endorsement letter.



For Innovator visa's we may be able to provide the required £50,000 finance.

Sapphire will provide endorsement.

Obtaining endorsement can be time consuming. We are here to help. 

It is very important that any entrepreneur wishing to obtain the startup or innovator visa first obtains an endorsement from an approved body - such as Sapphire Capital Partners LLP. We are here to ensure that your business meets the three key criteria - being innovation, viability and scalability.

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Our services include the following:
  • Issue endorsements (we use our own measures in order to assess if your business meets the three key criteria - being:

    • Innovation: Do you have a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage?

    • Viability: Do you have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business?

    • Scalability: Is there evidence of a structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets?

    • Our endorsement will be in the form of an endorsing letter which you will use to support your visa application); 

  • Stay in contact (we will stay in touch with you at checkpoints after six and 12 and (in the Innovator category) 24 months, and assess your progress); and

  • For innovator visas (we can issue further endorsements for extension and settlement applicants).

100+ client testimonials

I was delighted with the service that I received from Boyd and his team at Sapphire. I was anxious to get our EIS Advance Approval as soon as possible so I wanted to make sure the documentation was perfect. Boyd supplied me with all the templates I needed, including a cash-flow forecast template, which was extremely helpful and he was very responsive to all my questions. I felt in very safe hands and this was confirmed when the HMRC approval came through within four weeks of my application.

Sara Madderson

Madderson London

We had been looking into applying for EIS advance assurance and the whole process seemed very daunting. Johnathan from Sapphire Capital explained the whole process to us and took us through it step by step in a very efficient manner. It was extremely seamless and we were delighted to have found them to help.

Ross McDowell

Harty Nutrition Limited

Bondford was time-pressured to secure SEIS/EIS advanced assurance for its prospective investors. Boyd and Johnathan managed to secure that assurance within just 2-weeks and at a cost that was 50% less than our auditors. I would recommend their services.

Henry Vaughan


The team at Sapphire really knows their stuff. They helped us through the entire process and the HMRC EIS application was approved with ease. I couldn’t hope for a more competent advisor in terms of SEIS and EIS applications.

Kiattipong Arttachariya

Paragon Partners

Johnathan of Sapphire was excellent in guiding us through the entire process. Although our holding company is based in the Republic of Ireland (in Cork), Johnathan made what is a complex process of applying for EIS advance assurance for a non-UK based company straightforward. I genuinely, could not recommend him enough.

Tony Duggan

Crossflow Payment Solutions Trading Limited (Elite programme member of London Stock Exchange Group)

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Contact Us

Get in touch, we are friendly and approachable


Sapphire works across two UK offices, based in London and Belfast. 

London Office

34 South Molton Street
London, W1K 5RG.
+44 (0) 800 0545 070

Belfast Office

28 Deramore Park
Belfast, BT9 5JU.
+44 (0) 800 0545 070

Contact Us

If you wish to find out more or apply for the Start-up & Innovator Visa service - please complete the form below.