Government invites talented international entrepreneurs to start-up in UK

A government scheme aiming to attract some of the world’s best entrepreneurial talent to the UK announced the first start-ups it wants to work with today.

The UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) scheme, dubbed the Sirius Programme, will provide start-ups with a 12 month place on a business accelerator programme, mentoring, help gaining clients, financial support of £12,000 per team member, and visa endorsement.

The seven start-ups that were announced today have 19 entrepreneurs from 13 countries including India, China, Italy, Germany, Canada, Kenya, New Zealand, and Nigeria.

Their business ideas and inventions include: a one-of-a-kind way of creating green energy by converting waste coffee grounds into biofuel; a low-cost, portable, remote smartphone battery charging solution; and a fraud-reduction device that enables consumers to instantly verify whether a branded product is counterfeit via their mobile phone.

Minister of State for Trade and Investment Lord Livingston said: "We are committed to helping talented entrepreneurs from around the globe to build their businesses here. The Sirius Programme will back the most talented teams and ensure the UK continues to lead in inspirational start-ups and being the first to market with innovations.

"It is clear that Britain is fast becoming the country of choice for talented graduates to start and grow their businesses, which will ultimately help our economy to grow, boost productivity and create jobs, and succeed in the global race.”

More than 160 entrepreneurs from over 30 countries around the globe entered the first round of the Sirius Programme, according to UKTI.

Tim Brown, co-founder of footwear start-up, ToBe, one of the businesses that will launch in the UK as part of the Sirius Programme, said: “Being based in the UK will enable us to start up and develop alongside like-minded entrepreneurs and gain access to world-class strategic advice and support. We can’t wait to meet our Sirius Programme mentors, the accelerator team and to get started.”

The Sirius Programme aims to attract hundreds of talented entrepreneurs into the UK in its first two years. The next round of applications opens in January 2014. For more information and to apply visit

See below for a full list of the seven start-ups that have been awarded a place on the programme this year.

  • ToBe: Ex-professional footballer from New Zealand, Tim Brown, is the inventor of Fitwool, a wool material which he will use to launch the world’s first ever seamless, sock-free running shoe

  • Founded by Vietnam’s Duy Nguyen, India’s Amit Pate and the UK’s David McGee, reduces fraud by providing consumers with instant proof that a branded product they are buying is genuine via their mobile phone

  • Savesquared: Kenyan Edwin Openda and Italian trio, Carlo De Micheli, Stefano Caso and Andrea Gurnari, have developed a smartphone battery charging solution which enables batteries to be charged on the go at a cost of just £1 and without users having to wait nearby or lock their phone away

  • Sport for Food: Co-founded by Jean Eyoum from France and Canadian Richard Loat, this social enterprise is a new model for philanthropy, hosting flashmob-style sports events which people can participate in return for making a donation to a local food bank

  • ChiJen Brush Spa: Nigerian-born Jennifer Chizua and her British co-founder James Field identified a gap in the market for an affordable automated make up brush cleaner which will revolutionise the work of professional make up artists as well as standards of hygiene in the UK’s make up bags

  • Rentez-vous: Fiona Disegni from France has joined forces with Greek, Myrsini Glinos, Aniss Bouraba from Algeria and China’s Lesley Zhang to form the first fashion rental marketplace, allowing women to rent clothes from one another, as well as directly from designers for a fraction of the sale price

  • Bio-Bean: Benjamin Harriman and Arthur Kay of UK start up Bio-Bean are creating green energy by converting waste coffee grounds into biofuel, an idea not in use by any other company that came to designer Arthur whilst designing a coffee roasting plant and coffee shop

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