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Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme (Start-up Visa)

Are you a graduating overseas student / entrepreneur with a great business idea?

Brunel University London will once again be sponsoring a number of International students, supporting them in applying for a Start-up tier 1 Visa. This will enable exceptional entrepreneurial graduates with exciting and commercially viable ideas, to extend their stay in the UK for 24 months whilst they explore and implement their businesses.

To apply for a Start-up Visa, you need an endorsement from a UK higher education institution or other body. Brunel University London is offering to endorse a select few students through the Entrepreneur Hub’s Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme (GES).

If you are truly passionate about your business idea and eager to succeed, we want to help you reach your goals.

Applications for 2023-24 are open. 

What kind of people and businesses are we looking for?

We are interested in enthusiastic people with innovative business ideas with a strong potential for success, that could even change the world! 

Can I apply?

For the 2023-24 scheme the below criteria applies. 

Brunel’s scheme is open to Brunel University International students who will be graduating within 12 months from 1 May 2023 and will apply for the visa within three months of their graduation. If you are graduating between 1 May 2023 and 30 April 2024 and you wish to be considered, you will need to apply for the Start-up visa GES scheme by 2 June 2023.

The Entrepreneur Hub applies the following criteria to submissions:

1. The student must have financial ability and commitment to spend the majority of their working time solely on developing their business. 

 2. The student must demonstrate a high standard of written and spoken English.

3. Their idea must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • Clear links with Brunel University London (e.g. a business directly applying learning from Brunel)
  • Is a very novel entrepreneurial idea displaying innovation and creativity
  • Is a genuine and credible business idea (i.e. you have tested and validated the key assumptions and critical success factors for your business idea)
  • It has to be a graduate level idea. For example, setting up a fast food business in the UK would not be considered.
  • Generally, it must plan to be generating revenue within 12 months (exceptions will be considered)

4. The student must have some evidence of entrepreneurship and must have taken steps to prepare themselves to have what it takes to run a business.

5. The student must agree to provide time to assist Brunel with promoting entrepreneurship.

6. The student must submit annual and quarterly updated plans in advance of pre-agreed meeting dates with defined activities (i.e. ongoing work) and deliverables (i.e. measurable outcomes) that can be measured against plans and recorded and evidenced for UK immigration.

How do I apply? 

Request an application form here, once complete please submit your application via email to before 2 June 2023.

Please note, our team will then review your application and respond to you as soon as possible. 

Key dates: 

Apply for the Start-up visa GES scheme before 2 June 2023.

If your application is shortlisted, our team here at the Entrepreneur Hub will contact you via Email to confirm next steps. 


Creating a viable business idea

Answering the following questions will help you to determine whether your business warrants a Tier 1 Start-up visa.  You need to set aside quality time to plan and market research your idea to ensure that the idea is not only viable, but is innovative and will benefit the UK’s economy.

 It is also important to understand your goal for motivational purposes. Why do you want to create a venture?  What is the vision? How long do you intend to run it? What will happen to the business? Knowing these questions will then help you to create actions and steps towards that goal, making your journey smoother and faster. 

Importantly, your idea must be better and different to the existing competition and it must benefit the UK or local economy in some way (for example, your idea creates jobs).

How do I know if my idea is worthy of a Tier 1 GE visa?

Answer the following questions before completing a Tier 1 GE application. 

 1.       What is the Business?

  • What/who is your target market?
  • Why are you targeting them?
  • How do you know that they want and need your product or service?
  • What research supports this?
  • How big is the market?
  • What evidence have you got to support this?
  • How much are customers willing to pay? How do you know?
  • Who else offers this product/service?
  • What’s the size of these competitors?
  • Is there room in the marketplace for you to exist?
  • How will your competitors react when you enter the same market?
  • In what ways are you different to your competitors?
  • How are you going to raise awareness of your product/service?

 2.       What are your goals and objectives?

  • Where do you see this business in 12 months / 2 years’ time?
  • Is that realistic? Why?
  • What training / support do you need to achieve your objectives?
  • Have you spoken to friends/family/others about your concept?
  • What networks have you already created to help you develop your skills/knowledge and your business?
  • Regardless of the business where do you see yourself in 2 years’ time?

 3.       Who’s involved?

  • Who is involved in this business?
  • Should anyone else be involved in the business to assist you?
  • Should you take on a partner to lead on areas where you are perhaps weaker?
  • Why are they involved? (i.e. what additional strengths do they bring)
  • What are their roles?
  • What role do you see for yourself?
  • Why are you the best person to run this business?

 4.       What steps have you already taken to start your business?

  • Have you looked at the various business start-up websites to help you formulate your idea (see below for examples)
  • Have you considered your pre start-up costs prior to starting the business?
  • Do you recognise your strengths and weaknesses?

 5.       Finance

  • How do you intend to generate revenue?
  • What are your pre start-up and start-up costs?
  • When do you expect to break-even?
  • What are you selling prices?
  • Where do intend to be located? (which will affect your finances)
  • Do you need to generate funds at any time? How much is required? 
  • Where will you obtain the funds?
  • Do you intend to use an accountant or do it yourself?
  • Do you expect to be in debt for the period of the visa (12 months)?

 6.       Are you able to describe your idea in 1 minute?