Innovation – a route out of crisis

The last six months have been devastating to a huge number of businesses, but we have also seen real innovation - either out of necessity or responding to opportunity. Going forward, securing funding to maintain or kickstart innovation will be critical to SMEs across the UK.

08 October 2020

red paper airplane on blue background goes different direction

Since the pandemic has swept into the UK, we‘ve seen brewers switching production to hand sanitisers, Formula One specialists helping develop ventilators, the Army supporting NHS supply chains, and all sorts of manufacturers producing PPE. Innovation didn’t have to mean huge change - delivery companies responded to customer concerns by introducing contactless procedures where they ring the bell and leave the package at the door.

Our gradual return to normality will bring challenges as well as opportunities for those UK businesses which have managed to weather the storm. Phones will begin to ring again; website traffic will pick up and trading volumes will increase.

ABGI has been here to support our clients throughout the lockdown. As well as helping them, we’ve listened and learned from them, and identified some common themes emerging out of their experience.

What happened?
Business need to think about the first half of this year. We all know about the big picture - but what happened to your business in terms of employees, premises, cash position, invoices? What action did you take, what impact did it have and how quickly can you respond to whatever your world looks like now? What happened to your suppliers and, most importantly, your customers? Behaviours and needs have changed.

What now?
Many companies haven’t experienced business as usual over the past few months – some will have been closed while others may have switched production. They must now consider whether demand is still there for the products they produce and if their employees are able to return to the workplace or proceed by working remotely.
It’s possible that customer needs have changed, and a firm’s goods and services are no longer required in the post-pandemic environment. Premises are another issue – are they ready to open and fit for purpose going forward? Are suppliers still trading and are they still suitable for what might be the changing needs of a business?

One thing that is top of mind for many of our clients is finance. Securing short-term working capital to get up and running again will be the first challenge for many. Beyond that, they can begin to look at a medium term, and the challenges of attracting capital investment - which was already at a historic low before the Covid-19 shutdown.

There are, fortunately, many options including government support schemes which are, for now, still available. Banks and other lenders will listen to the needs of business, but they will be cautious about new lending in an uncertain economic climate.

For innovative businesses, grants and tax incentives can be really generous sources of funding.

The future
Innovation has been a necessity over the last few months - and will be critical to many manufacturers going forward.

ABGI are experts in funding innovation. Our services include R&D tax relief, grant funding, patent box, advanced funding for innovation and more.

We can:

  • Review your current funding.
  • Identify opportunities – existing and new.
  • Maximise your entitlement.
  • Accelerate funding.
  • Advise you when new opportunities emerge.

Article originally published on Dorset Chamber of Commerce