MedCity will be taking on an important role to endorse the new Start-up and Innovator visas announced earlier this month for skilled business people working in life sciences.

On 7 March 2019, the government brought forward a number of changes to the Immigration Rules to continue to attract leading talent.

The rules will provide skilled business people access to two new visa routes to set up businesses in the UK. The Start-up visa route will be open to those starting a business for the first time in the UK, while the Innovator visa route will be for more experienced business people who have funds to invest in their business.

Both routes will see endorsing bodies and business experts – rather than the Home Office – assessing applicants’ business ideas in terms of innovation, viability and scalability.

On 29 March 2019 MedCity was named as one of the endorsing bodies in the life sciences sector. For more information on MedCity’s processes and to ascertain if we are the appropriate endorsing body see the FAQs below.

There are currently 24 endorsers for the Start-up route and Innovator Route. Start-up applicants can also be endorsed by HEI endorsing bodies and the Home Office has published the names of these universities.

“The announcement of these new routes for start-ups and innovators is fantastic news and MedCity is proud to be an endorsing body in the life sciences sector. The UK has so much to offer life sciences entrepreneurs and companies in terms of globally recognised universities and hospitals, and access to talent. We look forward to seeing how these new visa routes will help grow the sector.”

MedCity CEO, Sarah Haywood


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who does MedCity offer endorsement services for?

Start-ups and innovators who are working in the life sciences sector and are looking to locate in the region of London and the Greater South East of England. In line with MedCity’s remit, the life sciences sector includes biopharmaceuticals/therapeutics, medical devices, diagnostics, digital health and AI if its application is in products and services for human health.

What are the criteria to get a Start-up or Innovator visa?

These are set out by the Home Office and can be found in the introduction and Annex A (page 22) of their guidance document.

Are there other visa routes other than Start-up and Innovator?

Yes. The Start-up and Innovator visas may not be appropriate  if you do not meet the definition of a start-up or innovator as outlined by the Home Office in page 9 of the guidance document. There other types of visa that might be more appropriate.

What are the processes by which MedCity endorses Start-up and Innovator visa applications?

Once it has been ascertained that the applicant is working in the life sciences sector (see FAQ 1) they must send us the necessary information for us to make an endorsement decision. In the first instance this would be a summary business plan and, if possible, a pitch deck which includes all the relevant information as outlined in annex A of the guidance document. It is the applicant’s responsibility to send us the necessary information and we may ask for further information in order for us to make a decision.

Once we have all the information we need we will then set up an interview with the applicant. This can be done over the telephone or via skype and the applicant does not need to be in the UK for the interview, although we welcome meetings that can be held face to face at MedCity’s office in central London. This is in line with MedCity’s current processes of providing letters of endorsement.

Based on the interview and the information provided, MedCity will then decide whether to supply an endorsement for the applicant or whether further evidence or information is required prior to a decision being made.

Are there any fees payable to MedCity for endorsement for Start-up and Innovator visa applicatios?

For 2019/2020 and for applicants who can evidence that they are looking to locate in London or the Greater South East of England, MedCity will not be charging applicants to provide endorsements.

MedCity will provide no funding to the applicant and will not take any equity stake.

Who makes the application for Start-up and Innovator visas?

This is done by the applicant to the Home Office. It should be noted that if we supply an endorsement, it will be eligible for three months from the date on the endorsement letter, so this should be taken into account when making an application for a start-up or innovator visa.

How long will it take to get a decision?

There are no established timelines as this will depend on the type of visa and the information supplied by the applicant. We recommend applicants read the criteria in annex A of the guidance document to make sure they supply the necessary information.

Can endorsements be applied for by intermediaries, such as immigration lawyers or advisors on behalf of the visa applicant?

No. MedCity will engage directly with the visa applicant.  All information (business cases, pitch decks, evidence etc) must be provided by the applicant and the interview must be conducted by the visa applicant(s).  Please note, we do not charge fees to consider or supply endorsements if you can evidence that you are looking to locate your business in London or the region of the Greater South East of England.  No charges will be passed on to third parties.

For more information please contact