The University of Bradford is the first university to be awarded Innovator Visa and Settlement endorsement status by the Government, allowing it to endorse visas for overseas entrepreneurs from first starting up, to running a successful long-term business.

The university is currently the only university to be awarded such status, a big boost for the city of Bradford and overseas entrepreneurs looking to launch start-ups.

Start-up and Innovator Entrepreneur and Visa Programmes aim to attract and retain entrepreneurial talent to support the growth of Bradford’s economy.

The programmes help entrepreneurs in mentoring and networking as well as helping them pitch their ideas to investors across the sectors. The two-year course is open to anyone who has a new, innovative, viable and scalable social or business enterprise idea. Entrepreneurs from overseas receive endorsement for a two-year Start-up visa in the first instance.

Bradford University Innovator Visa and Settlement endorsement for entrepreneurs

The programmes are run by an experienced team at the University, led by Honorary Professor Paul Thorning, Director of Open Innovation.

Prof Thorning is a co-founder and CEO of CrystecPharma, a Bradford-based pharmaceutical technology company spin-out from the university.

He said: “The Home Office authorises a range of institutions to endorse different types of visas. Many UK universities have been authorised to endorse Start-up Visas but we were the first to be authorised to endorse Innovator and Settlement. Achieving this authorisation requires formal support from a UK Government department on the basis of a track record of successful work with SMEs. We received this support from the Department of International Trade.

“Our Start-up vehicles are all about bringing talent into the city and holding onto talent coming out of the University. Our Innovator programme is about giving people who want to come to the UK from overseas to start a business a defined route and a high level of support including networking connections, use of facilities, opportunities for fundraising and of course, ultimately a path to settled status.”

Projects currently in development include a facial recognition home security solution, an African languages app and learning platform, a new line of quality South Indian ready meals and condiments, and an ‘augmented reality’ platform to help people navigate public spaces.