Just because we are in lockdown, doesn’t mean you can’t be innovating. It just means you’ve been having to do things a little bit differently, a bit like the Government.
You can’t fault them for the Innovative ways they are finding to support British Business, whether it’s allowing the furloughing of staff, the development of a portal to report details of those staff that have been furloughed, the creation of 4 new funding streams to get cash to Britain’s Limited companies, developing a new portal for the self-employed to access funding, the ramping up of new testing facilities for COVID swabs or the development of a contact tracing app to warn you of people you’ve been in contact with who may have been infected. All of these are innovations, and some of them, if they had been developed by or in the private sector might have been eligible for Research and Development Tax Credits.
We’ve been working on a journey to automate a lot of our back end procedures to try and streamline the work and make the customer journey more consistent. We’ve starting using Practice Ignition for our contracting and Xero for our accounting and the two can integrate with one another. Practice Ignition also integrates with our CRM system Really Simple Systems, so we should begin to see some tangible benefits in the not too distant future.
It’s not quite the same for our clients.
Based on the conversations we’ve had with them there’s a very broad spectrum of how they have been coping.
Those involved in Software and Tech Development have managed to retain a strong semblance of business as normal, albeit with desktop collaboration replaced by collaboration through Zoom or Microsoft Teams collaboration. I know from my experience, that it’s good, but it’s not quite the same but it has been a very useful resource in the short to medium term, but they can’t wait to get back together to get the creative juices flowing even more strongly.
That contrasts very strongly with those businesses involved in Manufacturing or Engineering. Although many of them have been able to maintain social distancing, and could continue to operate, many have found that they have been unable to continue to work anywhere close to capacity, either because their supply chains have dried up or their customers have closed down and are no longer accepting any Goods In. As a result, many have either mothballed the site or maintained a skeleton workforce to continue to service those jobs for businesses that have managed to stay open.
Which brings us on to a final sector, the food and beverage sector, with the great British public going on a buying spree in late March and early April to stock up the cupboards and the freezers, those business baking, or processing meat have never been busier and have had to shelve/delay their plans for R&D Tax Relief claims to focus on ramping up production whilst maintaining social-distancing, which in some circumstances has led to 24 hour production with an over night shift.
We’ve also been speaking to a number of innovation agencies that we network with, these are generally business that support SME product development, depending on their market, they have broadly reflected the situation their customers have found themselves in. One agency who supports customers with tangible new product development have seen their work shrink significantly as businesses cut back on their external costs to focus on survival. Whereas one helping companies to develop new recipes or to look at reducing the costs of their end products by considering alternative ingredients, have stayed fairly busy.
We’ll have to wait and see what shape this recovery is, I know I am hoping it’s going to be a tick shaped recovery, but Boris has just announced his first measures to try and take us out of lockdown, and I think many people will be having to find ways to try and implement them.
What we do know from past recessions is that those companies that manage to continue with their marketing efforts and their innovation efforts, will be the ones that come out on the other side the strongest.
Not all of these “innovations” will qualify for R&D Tax Credits, but many will. If you’d like to know whether what you’ve done in your last two financial years, what you’re doing now, or what you’re planning for the future might qualify for a claim, then please get in contact for a free 15 minute chat, you can book an appointment at www.calendly.com/simon-bulteel. In the meantime, keep innovating and stay alert.