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Funding & Incentives

British Venture Capital Association 

The British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA) is the industry body and public policy advocate for the private equity and venture capital industry in the UK. The BVCA membership comprises of more than 700 influential firms, including over 300 private equity and venture capital houses, as well as institutional investors, professional advisers, service providers and international associations. Working together to provide capital and expertise to growing businesses, to unlock potential and to deliver enhanced returns to the millions who directly and indirectly invest in our industry.

› Find out more about the BVCA


UK Business Angels Association

The UK Business Angels Association (UKBAA) is the national trade association for angel and early-stage investment, representing over 160 member organisations and around 18,000 investors. Business angels in the UK collectively invest an estimated £1.5 billion per annum and are therefore the UK’s largest source of investment for start-ups and early-stage businesses seeking to grow.

› Services for entrepreneurs - click here

› Services for investors- click here


Business Banking UK

UK Bank Account Services

The UK is home to many banks that offer business accounts to international investors. Banks are required by legislation to carry out checks before offering a business bank account. 

Some banks may not accept certain businesses. Contact us for free advice on which bank might be the best match for you.

The UK government is working in partnership with the following banks:
Bank of China offers many UK corporate banking services to companies from China and across the world. 

› Read about Bank of China’s banking services

Santander offers a variety of banking and related services to business locating in the UK. 

› Read about Santander’s banking services

Barclays, the international banking group, has a variety of products and services that can help businesses locate in the UK

› See Barclay’s corporate products and services


What you need to do

Every bank has a slightly different process for opening a business account. In most cases you will need to have:

A UK place of business address a company representative residing in the UK (usually a director or an employee)

No matter where you intend to locate your business, you should contact the central inward investment banking team, usually located in London. Do not apply through a local branch, online or a call centre. Tell the bank that you have foreign shareholders and/or directors of your business and that you need a UK business bank account (rather than an international business bank account that’s held offshore).

After you have done this, you can do most of the application process online and over the phone. You’ll need to provide photographic identification and proof of address for all directors and any substantial shareholders.

The bank will also need to meet at least one representative of your company face-to-face in the UK to sign a bank mandate to open the business bank account.

Once your bank account is open, you will be able to use your local bank branch for your day-to-day banking needs.


Business Incubators

Business incubators and accelerators help new and start-up companies through the early stages of growth. This report looks at the landscape of incubators and accelerators in the UK, focusing on:
•the numbers, types, and locations
•how they are funded
•the number of businesses they support

The directory provides a database of incubators and accelerators in the UK as identified by Nesta. It can be filtered and searched by type, city, country, geographical coverage, sector focus, stage of start-up accepted, cost to participant, direct funding, and equity taken.


Finance and Support for Research and Development

Research and Development (R&D) tax reliefs

R&D reliefs support companies that work on innovative projects in science and technology. It can be claimed by a range of companies that seek to research or develop an advance in their field. It can even be claimed on unsuccessful projects.

You may be able to claim Corporation Tax relief if your project meets our definition of R&D.

› Find out more here


The Patent Box

The Patent Box enables companies to apply a lower rate of Corporation Tax to profits earned after 1 April 2013 from its patented inventions. The relief will be phased in from 1 April 2013 and the lower rate of Corporation Tax to be applied will be 10%.

This guidance only refers to patents but your company may also benefit from the Patent Box if it holds certain other medicinal or botanic innovation rights.

› Find out more here


Innovate UK

Innovate UK is the UK's innovation agency. We work with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy.

Since 2007 we have invested over £1.5 billion in innovation, matched by a further £1.5 billion in partner and business funding. We have helped more than 5,000 innovative companies in projects estimated to add £7.5 billion to the UK economy and create 35,000 extra new jobs.

› Find out more about UK Research and Innovation


Investing in Scotland and Northern Ireland

Scotland is the UK's most attractive location for foreign direct investment outside of London. If you're looking for a new home for your business, Scotland is the place to be. Find out why Scotland is a record-breaking place to invest.

Northern Ireland offers more than simply skilled people, competitive costs and great infrastructure; it's a location that delivers altogether more for investors. Find out more here about our sectors, opportunities and tailored support to meet your needs.

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Operational Support

How to set up a business in the UK 

The UK government can give you information to help you set up your business in the UK. Contact us to find out more. 

Many companies in the UK can also give you more specific advice and guidance on moving your business here. The UK government is working in partnership with the following companies:

› Find out more on registering a company in the UK

› Find out more on how to set your company up in the UK

› Find out more on how to register a UK branch of an overseas company


Legal System UK

The UK’s culture of entrepreneurship is supported by this trusted legal framework. UK courts follow legal precedents, but have the flexibility to adapt past rulings to meet modern business needs.

World class legal advisors are located all over the country – so no matter where you establish a business, you can be confident you will receive the best legal advice. There are many companies that can help you understand the UK’s legal system. The UK government is working in partnership with KPMG, which has a range of integrated legal services that can help you. 

› Read about KPMG’s legal services.

The UK has very strict intellectual property laws. These protect the names, ideas, products, designs and written word of businesses.

You have automatic protection for:
copyright (writing and literary works, art, photography, films, TV, music, web content, sound recordings)
design right (shapes and objects)

› Find out more about intellectual property protection in the UK.

The UK’s privacy and data protection laws ensure that customer data is processed, held and disposed of fairly, legally, accurately and securely. Your business must abide by the UK’s Data Protection Act.

Stronger legal protections are in place for sensitive information such as ethnic background, political or religious belief, health records and criminal records.

Read the Data Protection Act for details on how this may be relevant for your business.


Tax relief and incentives for businesses in the UK

The UK offers attractive venture capital schemes to help small and medium enterprises expand.

The Enterprise Investment Scheme and the Venture Capital Trust offer tax relief for individuals interested in investing in small businesses.

There are generous incentives for companies investing in research and development in the UK to promote fast-growing, innovative services and products. The Patent Box offers a 10% corporation tax (compared to the usual 19%) on profits from inventions patented in the UK.


Business Tax in the UK

Any company with a UK branch or office must pay UK Corporation Tax on company profits. The current Corporation Tax rate is 19% - reducing to 17% by 2020. At the current rate of 19%, the UK has the lowest headline business tax rate in the G20.

Tax on sales - Value Added Tax (VAT) must be charged and paid on goods and services. UK VAT is charged at 20%, although there are some exceptions. UK businesses that sell goods or services charge VAT on sales and customers who are themselves registered for VAT will be able to recover VAT paid out.

VAT is not applied to most export transactions, although it is likely to apply to sales to non-VAT registered businesses and private individuals within other EU countries.

Tax on imports - Imports into the UK (and other EU countries) from non-EU countries have import duty charged on goods but not services.

Many companies in the UK also offer more bespoke tax advice. The UK government is working in partnership with the following companies:
KPMG, whose strategy team provide tax, audit and advisory services to those wanting to set up in the UK

› Read about KPMG’s services


Apply for a UK visa

UK immigration visa rules are clear and applying for a visa is straightforward. You need a visa if you are coming to the UK from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. 

Before coming to the UK, you should:
check if you need a UK visa
book an appointment at your nearest visa application centre if necessary

There are more than 300 visa application centres worldwide, with application processing of less than 7 days available in more than 100 of them. In many countries, including India and China you can get a visa decision within 24 hours.
The type of visa you need depends on your situation and how you are applying.

A tier 1 (entrepreneur) visa may be suitable for you if you want to set up or run a business in the UK and meet eligibility requirements, such as having access to at least £50,000 investment funds. Learn more about tier 1 entrepreneur visas.

A tier 1 (exceptional talent) visa may be suitable for you if you are a recognised or emerging leader in science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology. Learn more about tier 1 (exceptional talent) visas.

A tier 2 (general) visa may be suitable for you if you’ve been offered a skilled job in the UK. Learn more about tier 2 (general) visas.

A tier 2 (intra-company transfer) visa may be suitable for you if your overseas employer has offered you a role in a UK branch of the organisation. Learn more about tier 2 (intra-company transfer) visas.

› Find out more about applying for business visas


Working with Department for International Trade (DIT)

The Department for International Trade (DIT) helps businesses export and grow into global markets. We also help overseas companies locate and grow in the UK. 


Locations and premises available in the UK

The UK has a wide range of properties for lease or rent for business purposes.

Small companies and entrepreneurs often opt for serviced offices to take advantage of the flexibility they offer in terms of infrastructure (such as internet access) and rental agreement lengths.

Larger companies may want to build, extend or change the use of premises. The UK has a straightforward planning process and one of Europe’s most efficient procedures for obtaining construction permits. Local planning authorities approve almost 90% of planning applications and 75% are completed within 3 months

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