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What is a Good Innovator Visa Business Plan?

The UK Government launched the Innovator visa for overseas entrepreneurs when the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) category was closed  in March 2019. The Innovator visa category is aimed at experienced business people, who have at least £50,000 available to invest in their business. An innovator must seek endorsement from an approved endorsing body for their business proposal. The latest list of approved endorsing bodies can be found here. The endorsing bodies have the commercial insight, and entrepreneurial experience which equips them to assess an applicant’s business proposal. So what are the endorsing bodies looking for in a good Innovator visa business plan?

Innovator Visa Endorsement Criteria

Your Innovator visa business plan will need to set out a specific business idea in a clear and structured proposal. In addition, the idea will need to meet the endorsement criteria. These criteria are set out in paragraph W6.3 of Appendix W of the Immigration Rules. An applicant for the innovator visa must meet all of the following criteria in providing their Innovator visa business plan:

  • Innovative – The applicant has a genuine, original business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage;
  • Viable – The applicant’s business plan is realistic and achievable based on the applicant’s resources. The applicant has the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run a business;
  • Scalable – There is evidence of structured planning and of potential job creation and growth into national and international markets.

A strong business idea in and of itself will not be sufficient – the world’s most innovative business will not meet the criteria if it is not something that can be scaled to national and international markets. Similarly, a business which is very viable will not meet the criteria if it is not innovative. In addition, the applicant must be relying on their own Innovator visa business plan. They must have generated the ideas in the plan (or made a significant contribution to those ideas) and must be responsible for executing the plan. This does not preclude teams from applying on the basis of the same plan, but each team member must be a founding member of the team. 

Innovator Visa Business Plan Criteria


You will need to show in your Innovator visa business plan that the business idea is genuinely new and not merely a different version of an existing business idea. However, if you have gained a competitive advantage by making a similar product in a more cost-efficient manner, this may count as an innovative business idea. You may wish to include:

  • In what way is your idea new and unprecedented?
  • What gap in the market will this idea fill?
  • If there are similar businesses, in what way is this different?


As part of your Innovator visa business plan you will need to show that you and your team can deliver the business idea. In order to show this, you will need to demonstrate that you or your team have the skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to deliver your business plan. This does not necessarily mean you have run the same or same type of business before, but you should have transferable skills from previous work or education, which is relevant to your business. You may wish to include:

  • Your professional and academic background and experience;
  • An explanation of how your experience will assist you;
  • Who will buy your products/services and why?
  • How do you propose to tackle your competition?
  • When will the business start to make a profit?
  • What plans do you have in place for marketing/advertising?


Your Innovator visa business plan will need to show evidence of structured planning and the potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets. You may wish to include:

  • Specific markets that you plan to expand into, (you may wish to include both geographical location and target customer base);
  • Details of how you plan to expand into larger markets, including any financial targets and any marketing strategies that may assist you;
  • Information about how you will fund your intended growth, i.e. from personal investment, external funding or business revenue.

It is important to remember that these terms are not defined in great detail in the immigration rules. A lot of discretion is given to endorsing bodies, meaning that different bodies may interpret different terms differently. It is therefore important to provide a clear and structured Innovator visa business plan.

Next Steps

You will need to select the endorsing body that is most appropriate for your business proposal. You can browse a list of suitable endorsing bodies here. Each endorsing body will have a different approach to how they will consider your business so it is important to follow the relevant process of the individual endorsing body. 

Contact our Immigration Barristers

If you would like further advice on an application for an Innovator Visa, or assistance with preparing an Innovator visa business plan, please contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.


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