The Start-up Scheme will be continuing as usual despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Please refer to our 'Timeline' tab below for the exact dates of the autumn application round.

International Entrepreneur Programme


Please click here for the International Entrepreneur Programme application form which will go live at 12:00 BST on Thursday 1 October 2020. The application form will close at 12:00 BST on Thursday 22 October 2020.

Imperial College receives endorsements annually from the Home Office to be able to sponsor recent Imperial graduates for the Start-up visa to start a business and remain in the UK. 

The College is required to have a process in place to assess the business and determine if it meets the Home Office criteria of:

  1. Innovation - Is there a genuine business plan that meets new or existing market needs and/or creates a competitive advantage?
  2. Viability - Does the applicant have the necessary skills, knowledge, experience and market awareness to successfully run the business?
  3. Scalability - Is there evidence of structured planning and of potential for job creation and growth into national and international markets?

For your business idea to be considered you will need to apply to participate in the International Entrepreneur Programme

Key points about the business, it should:

  • demonstrate why the business needs to be based in the UK and how the business will contribute to the UK economy.
  • not be a routine business that merely competes with local traders.
  • not be a business that engages in property management or property development.
  • the College will not support businesses that are acting on a consultancy basis.

LATE APPLICATIONS: The College is unable to accept late applications. If you miss the deadline you will need to submit an application to the next application round.

Who can apply?

  1. Students who are currently in their final year of a UG or PG course at Imperial College or
  2. Recent graduates who have graduated from Imperial within the last 3 years or
  3. Post-Doctoral researchers currently employed by Imperial College, on a Tier 2 visa and hold a UK degree.

Imperial College is unable to accept applications from non-Imperial students.


International Entrepreneur Programme

To be considered for endorsement by the College applicants will be required to apply under the International Entrepreneur Programme (see the 2-stage application process below).

Getting support for your business idea

Key to participating and being considered under this programme is that you must have a strong business plan demonstrating innovation, viability and scalability. There are a number of resources available at the College which can provide support and feedback for your business plan. For further information please see the Enterprise Lab and find out about entrepreneurial opportunities across the College.

Please view the Startup Endorsement Application Questions PDF document so that you can prepare your answers in advance of submitting them via the online application form.

Stage 1 Application

The application form which will go live at 12:00 BST on Thursday 1 October 2020 and close on Thursday 22 October 2020 at 12:00 BST.

LATE APPLICATIONS: The College is unable to accept late applications. If you miss the deadline you will need to submit an application in the next application round.

The Initial Assessment Panel will review all applications and shortlist the strongest business applications to progress to the second stage Pitch-to-Panel session.

Stage 2 Pitch-to-Panel

If your business has been shortlisted you will have the opportunity to attend a Pitch Practice session before presenting your business idea at the Pitch-to-Panel session in front of the International Entrepreneur Panel.


1 Oct 2020 The application will open online at 12:00 BST on Thursday 1 October 2020.
22 Oct 2020 Applications close at 12:00 (BST)
26-30 Oct 2020 Stage 1: Initial Assessment Panel evaluate the applications and shortlist.
4 Nov 2020 Applicants notified by email if they have been shortlisted.
TBC Nov 2020 Pitch Practice session with Enterprise Lab.
TBC late Nov 2020 Stage 2: Successful stage 1 applicants will attend a Pitch-to-Panel session to present their business to the International Entrepreneur Panel and answer questions from the Panel (exact dates TBC).
Early Dec 2020 A few days after the Panel meeting applicants will be notified by email if the College will endorse their business.
Endorsement timeline

LATE APPLICATIONS: The College is unable to accept late applications. If you miss the deadline you will need to submit an application to the next application round.

Visa application

The International Student Support team will assist successful candidates in the visa application process by checking their visa application and supporting documents.

Key points

  • If you have been endorsed after the Pitch-to-Panel session then you will be granted a conditional endorsement until you meet all the requirements of the visa route. Once you are ready to make your visa application an Endorsement Letter will be issued by the International Student Support office. 
  • Visa applications made within the UK will be checked and posted via the International Student Support office.
  • A Start-up visa is granted for 2 years and is not extendable beyond this period.
  • If you have dependants they may also move over as your dependant under this visa route.
  • There is no restriction on the number of hours that you may work however your main focus should always remain on the establishment of your business.


Under the maintenance requirements for this visa route, you are required to provide bank statements in your own name that show you have held £ 945 in a bank account for 90 consecutive days.


  • Passport
  • Biometric Resident Permit (if your visa was issued in this format)
  • Police Registration Certificate (only if you are from a country required to register and it must be up-to-date)
  • Bank statements
  • Endorsement letter

Ongoing assessment

  • A requirement of being sponsored under this visa route is that you will continue to be assessed by the College at agreed upon contact points during the year.
  • You will be required to submit an action plan for the year ahead with your intended milestones.
  • Meet with a member of staff from the International Student Support office 4 times during the 2 years of the visa to update on progress of the business.
  • Update the International Student Support should you change your name, change contact details, obtain a new passport, leave the UK for an extended period of time or switch into a different visa category.

Failure to meet the above requirements may lead to your sponsorship being withdrawn and your visa being cancelled.

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