UK Global Talent Visa | Graphene Graduate, Daniel Melendrez

My last blog was about successful recipients of the UK Global Talent Visas in digital technologies #TechNationVisa. Taras Lanchev, an Exceptionally Talented Graduate from Ukraine and this blog is also about an exceptionally talented graduate, but from Mexico.

I met Daniel Melendrez when we were one of a select few startups invited to exhibit at the launch of the new Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) in Manchester. 

Daniel is the Lead Engineer at Atomic Mechanics, a university spin out based in Manchester, founded in 2017. It designs, manufactures and commercialises a range of sensor and actuator devices based on a patented graphene-based technology.

Atomic Mechanics is currently working in close partnership with the National Graphene Institute at the University of Manchester to develop its first two products; a robust pressure sensor and a transparent flexible touch interface. These products are manufactured using state of the are clean-room facilities using 2d material fabrication technology and the Atomic Mechanics core know-how of graphene-polymer films.

Graphene is a new 2d material that was discovered at the University of Manchester by 2 Professors in 2004.  Since its discovery and Nobel Prize award, Manchester is now the City of Graphene where the National Graphene Institute and the new GEIC houses many researchers, state of the art lab equipment and facilities and commercial industry partners who have taken up residence at these innovation centres to realise the commercialisation of graphene.

It’s no wonder Daniel chose to do his Phd in Material Science at the University of Manchester and made a beeline to work with this new and innovative material.

While we were both showcasing our inventions using graphene, Daniel said he was hesitant to apply for the Global Talent Visa (formerly Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa) endorsement because he felt the number of requirements were overwhelming. He also thought that this route was intended mostly for computer science and software engineers. 

In addition, he was so busy finalising his Phd thesis that he didn’t have much time to thoroughly consider the endorsement process. He also felt overwhelmed with the exceptional promise and exceptional talent categories for the endorsement application.

While I completely understand the amount of time it takes to prepare for the Stage 1 Global Talent Visa endorsement application, Daniel’s main hesitation was because of all the criteria that an applicant must meet in order to be successful.

I agree, upon a quick glance of the 20+ page guidelines produced by Tech Nation (formerly Tech City UK), it can seem overwhelming and daunting to say the least.  However, when chatting to Daniel about his achievements during his studies at the University of Manchester, his skills and all his tech projects, I reassured him that he appeared to meet most of the criteria for exceptional promise and all he needed was time to read the guidelines for the Global Talent Visa in digital technologies #TechNationVisa properly and figure out which documents he should submit.

With his Phd thesis looming, his mind was more focussed on completing that task so we agreed to have a further chat once he submitted his thesis.

Fast forward 2 months, Daniel was finally ready to tackle the Stage 1 Global Talent Visa endorsement application and seemed more eager than when I first met him.  This is because after reading the application guidelines properly, Daniel realised that his profile could potentially fit in terms of both his academic and professional background which altogether matched with not only the minimum requirements but he was able to provide strong supporting evidence. My reassurance and encouragement for him to consider applying also helped him get over that first mental hurdle : that he couldn’t possibly fit the criteria.

The evidence Daniel finally submitted included:

  • The Eli Harari Award, a £50,000 grant by the University of Manchester that he and his team won for Atomic Mechanics to help them with starting their business, 
  • a book Daniel co-authored, 
  • two recommendation letters from experts in Graphene, 
  • an academic letter from his supervisor, 
  • a technical report on his duties as the Lead Engineer from his company, 
  • a description of his own electronics projects including his GitHub profile, 
  • a publication in a high-impact peer-reviewed journal, 
  • a letter from his employer (CTO of the company) and 
  • a shareholder’s agreement document.

In comparing the difference I saw in Daniel from when I spoke to him at the exhibition to now discussing his application, I could sense Daniel’s confidence had increased ten fold. This is because he had time to read the guidelines and speak to me about my own experience in being a successful recipient for the Global Talent Visa in digital technologies.

All Daniel needed was time, patience and structure to ensure everything is in order. This is because you are relying on experts to write you letters of recommendation so you need to respect their time too. You also need to select the right experts to help you put forward a strong application. Daniel realised that one cannot rush through this application process or juggle this with other high priority projects.

And this is why, looking back Daniel says that one of the most time-consuming tasks is getting the recommendation letters from your known “Tech Wizards” as you depend on their tight schedules. 

Also, Daniel says, getting the documents ready, mainly the personal statement took a while to get it in the best “shape” possible. I offered Daniel my templates, further guidance and coaching to help him get over these 2nd and crucial hurdles so that he could put forward a strong application. I knew he had the content, he needed help in structuring that content in the right way.

I was so pleased and excited for Daniel when he messaged me to let me know that he had successfully received his endorsement. He flew back to Mexico to apply for Stage 2, the Global Talent Visa from the UK Home Office. He also used this opportunity to spend some quality time with his family and friends knowing that his future, for the next five years, would be in the UK to continue to work at Atomic Mechanics, attend his graduation ceremony and more importantly, relax knowing that his UK immigration status was secure.

For Daniel, getting the UK Global Talent Visa in digital technologies and being endorsed with exceptional promise represents the opportunity to grow Atomic Mechanics and commercialise the products that they have been working on for the last 2 years and a half and bringing them to market. In addition, the UK Global Talent visa will give him the opportunity to apply for UK residence after 5 years. And then British citizenship!

Looking back, Daniel’s advice now to potential applicants is 

First look into your own background and skills. If you believe that you aren’t eligible, think twice!

He’s absolutely right! He also relays our time together and says:

When I met Michelle her enthusiasm about the UK Global Talent Visa was highly contagious! She told me not to worry about it and made me feel confident all the time. She provided key guidance on the type of documents to present, what to discard and how to present the most relevant evidence, e.g. she advised me on how to write the main idea from the personal statement and my technical reports. Last but not least she shared with me some templates that describe the way to submit each one of the supporting documents, including a checklist, since the application guideline is not as clear as one would like it to be. Michelle showed sincere interest on getting the endorsement for exceptional promise approved and when I finally got Global Talent Visa in digital technologies, she showed the same excitement that I felt. Thank you Michelle!

Daniel’s sincere gratitude towards me is equally met with my gratitude towards him in allowing me to be involved in his dream of living and working in the UK and to further my own goal to increase diversity in the UK tech sector.  The stress, the uncertainty and the overwhelming need to meet the strict criteria can be alot to take. My strong interest in graphene, my knowledge of the Stage 1 Global Talent Visa endorsement process and UK tech industry is why I thoroughly enjoyed working with Daniel.  His success took me back to when I received my endorsement for exceptional talent and finally the UK Global Talent Visa. It’s such an exciting feeling and it makes it all the more exciting to share it with someone who has been through the harrowing process too! Congratulations Daniel!

Read my blog about another successful UK Global Talent Visa recipient in digital technologies, Taras Lanchev, an Exceptionally Talented Graduate from Ukraine and how he received his #TechNationVisa.

Please note Daniel submitted before 1 December 2020. After 1 December 2020, Tech Nation have published new guidelines. Read more about the changes and new guidelines here

If you would like guidance and help on the Stage 1 Global Talent Visa Endorsement process or appeals, I help highly skilled tech entrepreneurs and talent increase their chances for a successful application for endorsement for exceptional promise or exceptional talent.  For all my packages of support for the Stage 1 UK Global Talent Visa, click here.

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