Recently we were delighted to mark a major milestone for the Tech Nation Visa. Since the Visa was introduced in 2014, we have now processed over 3000 applications, and have played a part in bringing hundreds of talented tech brains to the UK; helping them to share their expertise, innovation, and entrepreneurial skills to enrich the country. From January, we are also preparing to welcome EU citizens to apply for a Tech Nation Visa to gain up to 5 years entry into the UK. We are so proud to be involved in such a vital part of the UK tech ecosystem, and are endlessly inspired by the individual stories of our Tech Nation Visa recipients.
We spoke to three of our Tech Nation Visa Alumni to find out why they decided to come to the UK, what makes it a unique place for tech talent, and to get their advice for anyone thinking of applying.
Originally from Nigeria, Ogechi Onuoha is a software and Machine Learning engineer currently working at the University of Glasgow. She’s interested in creating technical solutions based on academic research, and is passionate about emerging African markets. She received the Tech Nation Visa at the beginning of 2017, and has been living and working in the UK ever since.
“I decided to come to the UK because of the strong support system in place for people who are looking to start a business, or to contribute to cutting-edge research in areas like machine learning and computer vision. I also wanted to be in an environment that is rife with opportunities for obtaining the investment to support my entrepreneurial goals and aspirations. Finally, some of the top universities in the world are in the UK. Being here makes it possible to attend public lectures, workshops and even conferences where I can meet and speak to leaders in technology in person”.
“The UK tech scene is growing fast, with multiple exits and IPOs having taken place recently. This progressively upward trend makes the UK a great place for anyone looking for an opportunity to start and/or grow a business. Having strong technical skills is appreciated here, and you can find opportunities to be part of an early-stage business that’s building world-changing technology”.
“Throughout my time in the UK, I’ve learned that, with the right mindset, team and opportunity, anything you put your mind to is possible. Being located in the right place can help you find the right team and opportunity, so I don’t take that for granted”.
“If you’re thinking of applying for the Tech Nation Visa, I would say GO FOR IT. The visa unlocks your capacity to do more and removes the restrictions and limitations you would have under other visa schemes. It allows talented people to pursue their dreams and aspirations. It’s also very prestigious and has opened multiple doors for me”.
Melisa Lenero is a translational designer, an enthusiastic entrepreneur, and a business strategist from Mexico. Having co-founded and led four different companies to date, her experience spans different industries; from design and technology, to arts and science. She’s studied at academic institutions in Asia, America and Europe and is passionate about delivering a fusion of science, art and design to create innovative human-centred initiatives that leave a genuine lasting impact on consumer welfare. She received the Tech Nation Visa at the end of 2018.
“For me, the UK is an innovation-driven hub, where people from different backgrounds, new tech and creativity converge, creating state-of-the-art initiatives. As an entrepreneur myself, I wanted to study a Masters without losing sight of the creative and tech scene; therefore, London was the place to go. I chose to study a Masters in Global Innovation Design; a joint programme between The Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. It was a relatively new course with a multidisciplinary approach, the only one of its kind. After graduation, this vibrant city charmed me until I decided to stay”.
“I think the UK startup scene is completely unique. It’s unique due to a combination of factors, but it definitely starts with its people. Diversity is the backbone of the UK’s ecosystem, plus its massive pool of talented people building and testing new tech”.
“There’s inspiration everywhere; you are surrounded by innovation, creativity and emerging tech. Besides the countless events, accelerators, and co-working spaces to attend; which helps if you are going through the challenging, and sometimes quite lonely, startup path, there are plenty of schemes to bridge the gap for investment, connecting small startups with well-known investors”.
“Coming from a minority group I have to recognise that, although there are efforts around social inclusion, we have to pass the “awareness” phase into actual action points in order to achieve real social inclusion”.
“There are plenty of opportunities in the UK. I believe there is a lot of support from different stakeholders – from government, institutions, private organisations and academia, to help individuals thrive. However, you have to know how to navigate your way through it all, and be very savvy to seize these opportunities”.
“If you’re thinking of applying for the Tech Nation Visa, I would say don’t hesitate – do it. The journey is going to be challenging, though – from understanding the nuances of language and tricky immigration definitions, to the process itself. But you won’t be alone, there are around 1,500+ endorsements already given, and you can ask the Tech Nation Visa Alumni for guidance”.
Originally from Peru, Carlos Samame received the Tech Nation Visa in 2019. Having built up his entrepreneurial experience starting, scaling, and selling his own business, he now works with startups to help them scale by looking at commercial options, and looks for innovative and disruptive startups to invest in as an Angel Investor.
“Living in the UK has always been one of my dreams because of the maturity of the startup ecosystem. But going beyond the tech industry, the UK it is the perfect balance between history, culture, diversity and innovation”.
“The UK tech scene has some of the brightest tech talents. It attracts the right people and leverages the diversity that they bring. The capacity to attract investment creates this serendipity zone where anything is possible”.
“There are so many lessons that I have learned by moving to the UK; but the one that sticks in my mind is that stepping out of your comfort zone is not easy, but if you are resilient enough, it often turns out to be the magic zone”.
“The Tech Nation Visa is one of the best visa schemes that exists in the UK; the government has many initiatives to keep the UK at the forefront of innovation. So, if you’re thinking about it, don’t hesitate in applying, it’s one of the best communities I have been part of”.