Below you can find answers to some of the questions we typically get asked, if we haven't answered your query then please get in touch and we'll be happy to help:
Eligibility for the Programme
Do I have to have an idea to join the Progamme?
Yes, you must have thoroughly researched and developed your idea in order to answer the questions on the application form and to prepare your pitch deck. You do not have to have started your business prior to joining the Programme. You cannot apply with multiple ideas.
What if I've already launched my business?
That's fine too as long as you're willing to meet the terms of the offer, i.e. 10% equity state, relocate to the UK etc.
Do I have to be part of a team to apply?
Yes. Teams are generally more successful and investable. We will consider teams with a minimum of two members and typically expect to see teams of two or three. However, we will be happy with teams up to five. If you want to enter with a larger team, you should contact us before applying to make sure that will be acceptable.
What is your definition of recent graduate?
All team members should have graduated from a recognised programme of study (equivalent to UK bachelors or higher level degree - Contact UK NARIC to find out if you can use your qualification for this visa.) within the last two years at the time of their application. Exceptions to the 2 years may be granted in rare cases and this should be discussed with the organisers before applying.
We welcome applications from overseas students from UK universities as well as those graduating outside of the UK.
Do all members have to be recent graduates?
At least 50% of all team members across the Programme must be recent graduates (by above definition) who are not British citizens and who require a visa to remain for work purposes in the UK. Every team must have at least one member who is not a British citizen and a majority of all team members must be recent graduates. EU citizens are welcome to apply.
Members of teams who join the Programme will usually be co-founders. Co-Founders will be expected to hold significant equity based on the circumstances of the business. All Co-Founders will be required to actively participate in the Programme and the development of the business for the full duration of the programme or the participating company may be penalised or removed from the Programme unless the participation of any individual is deemed by the Provider to harm the continued development of the company and they are released by the company.
How many people can be in a team?
Typically teams comprise two to three members. However, we may be able to accommodate larger teams if there is a genuine need, please get in touch to discuss
What do I need to do to apply?
Complete the online application form. The form requires basic information on the company and team members.
In addition, you will be asked to include links to:
- LinkedIn profiles for each member of the team
Please make sure your profile is up to date and accurate. Check for spelling mistakes, inaccurate dates and information and ensure it correlates with your application form.
- A pitch deck describing the company and its plans
A pitch deck is a brief presentation, often created using PowerPoint, Prezi or Keynote, used to provide the audience with a quick overview of your business plan.
11 slides of a pitch deck (We don't insist on 11, but try to make it 10–20 and no more!)
This is an indication of the type of things we would typically expect to see in your pitch deck
- Introduction – who you are, why you’re applying for the Sirius Programme
- Team – who’s involved with the business you’re pitching, briefly describe how you met, each person, what their role is and what they bring to the team
- Problem – what are you trying to solve?
- Advantages – what makes your idea better than anyone else’s and how are you different from others?
- Solution – how will you solve the problem
- Product – how does your product or service work?
- Traction – who are your potential customers
- Market – what’s the potential size of your market<
- Competition – who’s out there doing something similar?
- Business model – how will you make money
- Investing – what’s your planned budget/financials?
- Make a great first impression – tell us your story in an engaging way
- Keep slides simple, error free and visually engaging
- Know your numbers and facts
- Don’t make it too long – between 10 and 20 slides
- There are many online resources you can refer to, here’s an interesting article to give you some ideas
A video describing you and your idea
The video is your opportunity to showcase yourselves and your idea. We would like to see a compelling explanation of the business idea being pitched featuring all applicants, not an advert. Videos that do not feature all applicants, or that are just an advert for the product will not be accepted and your application will not be progressed.
It doesn’t need to be long, 2–3 minutes will give you time to do this. We are not expecting a professionally edited film, but do ensure the sound and picture quality is of a good enough quality for the panel to get the most from what you submit.
We will not accept videos that do not feature all team members who wish to be considered for the Programme.
- Storyboard (i.e. plan) what you’re going to say before you start filming. The more time you spend doing this, the better the outcome will be
- Have a well-defined structure and be clear about what message you want to get across to the panel and if you’re all participating make sure you don’t talk over each other
- Film in a quiet location and ensure there are no interruptions
- Practice, practice, practice
Why should I come to the UK to establish my business?
- The UK is the 5th largest economy in the world
- London is the number 1 city in the world for business
- The UK is the 2nd for global tech exits in 2016
- The UK is ranked number 1 in Europe for starting a digitlal business
What do you get for joining the Programme?
Please see this page for further details
Do all the team members have relocate to the UK for 12 months?
Team members in receipt of the graduate entrepreneur visa are required to remain in the UK for the duration of the Programme and should not leave the UK for extended periods; defined as three weeks over the course of the Programme except in cases of in case of personal necessity, compassionate reasons or medical treatment by agreement with the Programme. If a team member does not want/need to relocate to the UK and there is a strong business case for this, please get in touch with us to confirm eligibility.
Where will I be based in the UK?
The Sirius team will place you in one of 12 locations across the UK, this will be carefully selected to ensure it fits with your business idea. Training will be in London and travel expenses will be reimbursed where appropriate.
Do all intellectual property(IP) agreements have to be transferred to the UK?
Any intellectual property owned by the business when they join the Programme or created while on the Programme (if registrable) should be registered in the UK.
Does the company have to establish headquarters in the UK?
Yes, the company created must have its headquarters in the UK and remain registered in the UK for at least the duration of the Programme. Not all employees have to be based in the UK, however the management of the company should be in the UK.
Other than the seed funding, are there any living expenses provided for the selected startups?
No there are no additional funds available, however teams can use the seed funding to help support themselves.
Is there any support to help me develop my idea before I apply?
Unfortunately we are not able to support you to develop your idea to apply, however you may be able to find help at your university or through start-up organisations in your country.
Do I need to have tested or started my business before application?
You will need to have thoroughly researched your idea in order to answer the questions on the application form and to prepare your pitch deck, you do not have to have started your business.
We strongly advise you to read the UKVI visa guidance document before making your application as this provides up to date guidance on all of the requirements to obtain your visa. Please note changes are due to the guidance notes in April and October so please check back to ensure you are reading the most up to date documents.
How many visas are available?
We are expecting two cohorts in the next twelve months. We have 65 visas available at present, but the option to request more should there be sufficient demand.
How long is the endorsement for?
Successful applicants will be given a Tier 1 graduate entrepreneur visa for twelve months duration. There will be the option to extend for a further twelve months under this category, if your business is successful. Support will be provided to do this.
Will I be able to switch to a different visa category either during or after the Programme?
You will need to consult UKVI regards criteria for different visas and eligibility. We are not able to advise on this.
I already have a HEI endorsed graduate entrepreneur visa, am I able to switch to the Sirius Programme?
Yes, but you are only able to hold a graduate entrepreneur visa for 2 years maximum so it will depend on how long you've held your visa already.
I have leave to remain status having come to the UK as a refugee, can I apply?
Can I work whilst on the Sirius Programme?
Yes, however you are expected to spend the majority of your time on developing your business,so this will be checked to ensure it doesn't breach the conditions of the Programme or visa.
Will I require maintenance funds to be in place when applying for my visa?
No, as you will receive funding through the Sirius programme you will not be required to demonstrate holding maintenance funds in order to apply for your visa. (Please note the UKVI website is due to be updated, it currently states you DO require maintenance funds to be in place, but this is not the case). You WILL have to pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application. Check how much you’ll have to pay before you apply. You will also need to pay your travel and any other associated costs to get you to the UK. You will not receive any of your seed funding until you are in the UK and you've registered your business and opened your business bank account.
What are the timescales when applying for a visa?
This will vary for each application, typically you should receive a response within 3 weeks of applying. You will need to apply within 3 months of receiving your endorsement letter.
What you can and can’t do
- You can:
- bring family members with you
- extend your stay in the UK using this visa
- switch into this visa from some other visa categories
- You can’t:
- get public funds
- work as a doctor or dentist in training
- work as a professional sportsperson, eg a sports coach
- settle in the UK on this visa
What are the English language requirements for the Programme?
- You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply. You can prove your knowledge of English by either:
- passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level B1 in reading, writing, speaking and listening
- having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD
You may be able to meet the English language requirement in other ways. Check the full visa guidance for detailed information.
- You won’t need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- the Bahamas
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
You also may not have to prove your knowledge of English in other circumstances - check the visa guidance.