It’s no overstatement to say that 2020 has been a year like no other. Six months on from a global societal lockdown, our world, how we interact and even how we do business has completely changed. However, for several reasons, this may be cause for optimism, not least from a business innovation perspective.
Reports of developmental advancements across several sectors worldwide are flooding the media, with MedTech, biotech and fintech, to name but three, accelerating their innovation to help facilitate our new reality.
This boom hasn’t happened by accident. We can always look back in hindsight and reflect on “being in the right place at the right time”, but these businesses, by nature, have an intuitive and flexible culture that is fixated on innovative progression.
However, it’s not just these businesses that are changing; in a recent ‘Has Technology Outpaced Business’ report published by Addleshaw Goddard in partnership with the Fraser of Allander Institute, it showed that during the pandemic 73% of Scottish businesses were encouraged to adopt new technologies to provide their goods and services, while 81% of large businesses and 66% of SMEs accelerated their digital plans.
We’ve also seen a desire to improve and innovate regardless of circumstances, in our conversations with many businesses. That desire has enabled them to grow during the pandemic, which has also benefitted their entire ecosystem.
Currently, we believe that businesses are falling into 3 categories in terms of their likelihood to invest in innovation:
- Cash Restricted: Businesses without the means to innovate.
- Risk-Averse: Businesses that have the means, but not the risk appetite.
- Innovators: Businesses that have both the means and the appetite to grow, repurpose or break into new markets.
Understandably some cash restricted and risk-averse businesses are in survival mode but standing still and not adapting your business model to the changes and opportunities presented in the new digital world may leave many playing catch-up later. However, those companies with the ability and drive to maintain their relevance to a changing world will reap the rewards in the future.
No businesses should feel alone when it comes to innovation. We have the Scottish entrepreneurial community’s “CAN DO” vision for Scotland, which sees us becoming a world-leading innovative nation. To help us get there, several types of grants are available through Scottish Enterprise, and competitions like Scottish Edge offer funding up to £100K.
In fact, in September HMRC’s R&D tax credits report revealed that in 2018/19 they awarded Scottish businesses £235 million in R&D tax credits for their innovations, up £60 million on the 2017/18 figure reported last autumn. With the evolution of businesses over the last few months, you can only assume that amount will increase next year and, with R&D tax credits, if you continue to innovate you can continue to benefit.
Whilst we are currently experiencing the most challenging and restrictive business environment that many of us can recall, those businesses who have adapted their practices and harnessed their innovative spirit appear to be benefitting the most. It is this kind of progress that we hope to see more of and help enable across the whole economy.
The question we could all ask ourselves is, what category do our own businesses fall into, and where would we like to be in terms of innovation?
Amplifi Solutions works with innovative businesses across Scotland, helping them realise the benefits of HMRC’s R&D tax credit scheme. Our team of accountants, data analysts and technical writers from key industries such as software engineering, are here to guide businesses through the entire R&D claim’s process and to deliver a benefit that could help keep businesses investing in their growth.