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The easiest path to scaling in the UK – the Global Entrepreneur Programme

The UK’s Department for Business and Trade's flagship initiative – the Global Entrepreneur Programme (GEP) – has helped over 1,100 ‘tech’ founders relocate and develop their presence in the UK and continues to offer this service internationally.
The easiest path to scaling in the UK – the Global Entrepreneur Programme

Calling all scaleups! Ok, maybe not all, but the ones who would benefit from a UK-based HQ. And that's a lot. Who wouldn't want direct access to Europe's largest technology hub, with the biggest markets for fintech, enterprise software, health, energy, and transport?

This is made possible by the Global Entrepreneur Programme (GEP), run by the Department for Business and Trade, whose main goal is to make it easier for ambitious and innovative tech sector scaleups to relocate and grow in the UK. 

The programme has been supporting scale-ups for over 10 years– the longevity is a testament to a successful, replicable concept. What makes the programme unique? Amongst other things, is their use of dealmakers – dedicated mentors that support the scaleup with their network and knowledge of the local ecosystem. 

The Global Entrepreneur Programme and how it works

GEP is a free programme for ambitious entrepreneurs and their innovation-rich companies to scale and grow from the UK. 

The available support from the GEP includes:

  • mentoring,
  • support in developing business plans,
  • assistance with relocating to the UK,
  • providing introductions to key networks including investors,
  • guidance on how to grow internationally,
  • continued support from the Department for Business and Trade once located in the UK, especially around exporting and scaling.

Support starts at the relocation stage, where the Department for Business and Trade is able to ease the way for startups through endorsements for the Innovator Visa and recommendations for setting up – such as where to open a bank account, which city to establish the HQ in, etc.

Dealmakers are highly experienced entrepreneurs who essentially show the way forward and support the company in the UK by acting as counsel, advisor, and strategist all in one. 

The GEP's secret sauce – Dealmakers

The dealmaker aspect of the GEP is a major contributor to the success of the programme. Founders are matched with one of 25 global dealmakers who become mentors for one-on-one support and guidance. All Dealmakers have in-depth and hands-on knowledge and experience in scaling fast growth tech companies.

Meet GEP Dealmaker Martin Ring, who is an accomplished accountant and banker with decades of experience in the UK and Central Eastern Europe. He has been an adviser to fintech start-ups in Ireland and scaled various financial services companies in Poland, where he has lived for the past decade or so. A couple of years ago he acquired the Wolves Summit, a very successful Poland-based tech event for start-ups, scaleups, VCs, etc., and as such has access to potentially extensive partnership opportunities.

“We are a team of seasoned entrepreneurs who enjoy supporting founders – and the secret sauce that makes this programme so special is – entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs to succeed!” - Martin Ring, GEP Dealmaker

Dealmakers help entrepreneurs from around the world reach the next level of scalability. 

Take Finalrentals, for example, a business from Poland that has set out to disrupt the car rental industry and offers car rentals for the lowest price. Before participating in GEP they were present in three markets. After weathering the pandemic-driven crisis in the travel industry, the company joined GEP in 2022 and relocated to Wales. Since then, they've seen 330% growth in revenue, expanded to an additional 13 countries, and tripled their team. What's more, they also enjoy extensive support from various Welsh organisations, including the Development Bank of Wales and Fintech Wales.

Similarly, AdTonos, which is a digital audio advertising marketplace also from Poland, came to the conclusion that the most advantageous location for them to grow their business would be the UK. They made full use of GEP and continue to do so. 

“I am amazed at how actively GEP supports scaleups, and the best example is when we were selected to consult the government because they wanted to make sure the whole programme is meeting the ecosystem's needs. There are more examples, like the support we are given from the Department for Business and Trade representatives in other countries that we're considering in our development roadmap, or conferences and tradeshows where we join the Department for Business and Trade on official trade missions.” - Michal Marcinik, founder of AdTonos 

Now, AdTonos has over 300 million unique monthly users and delivers billions of personalised, targeted audio ad playouts every month.

Who is eligible for GEP support

GEP is open to entrepreneurs around the world who are interested in relocating themselves and their company HQ to the UK. The Programme's focus is on innovative and scalable tech businesses that have already demonstrated a decent amount of traction. 

They're looking for a product or solution that is beyond proof of concept, has shown local traction, and maybe has already raised funding.

Other requirements include:

  • having a potentially ground-breaking product or service based on unique technology,
  • a business plan/pitch deck outlining how the business can expand from a headquarters in the UK,
  • a customer-validated product either already in the market or ready to launch,
  • a clear commercial proposition that addresses a large global opportunity,
  • a plan for rapid growth.

While there are no geographical limitations for eligibility, GEP particularly welcomes founders from Nigeria, Ghana, Australia, Thailand, Korea, Singapore, Eastern Europe, LATAM (Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia), India, and Turkey.

Becoming part of Europe's largest start-up ecosystem

The UK's tech ecosystem has a lot to offer – not only is it growing on average 7% YoY, but it was also home to over 123 unicorns in the UK in 2022; more than Germany and France combined. The reasons for this are certainly too many to list, but they include having a vast amount of available financial capital ($15bn in VC tech funding in 2020), social capital (over 3,500+ Tech Meetups across the UK supporting 1.6m people), and advanced infrastructure (governmental tax and R&D activity support), to name a few.

GEP makes all of these benefits available to scaleups from around the world. Your first step will be to learn more by going to the GEP website. And when you're ready, simply write to [email protected] and send them your pitch deck. 

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