THE ABILITY to innovate is now a top priority for growing businesses everywhere. The speed at which innovation occurs is accelerating and consumers are hungry for new products, services and experiences coming their way.

But the economic climate still presents considerable challenges. Most companies have seen their budgets squeezed as a result of cost pressures. And game-changing innovation is not safe; it requires vision, courage and long-term commitment.

In a recent PwC survey Unleashing the Power of Innovation, which draws on the views of 246 chief executives from around the world, 43% said financial resources were one of the biggest constraints on being more innovative.

The survey also found that three quarters of the chief executives regard innovation as at least equally important to operational effectiveness.

Innovation’s rise up the executive agenda reflects the changing business environment. Growth is now exceptionally hard won and simply doing what you are doing a little better may not be enough to sustain it.

The competitive climate has also been transformed as the internet, social media and new digital devices revolutionise the way in which consumers buy products and services and what they expect from them.

The government wants to support business in this quest for innovation. It has designed funding incentives to support innovation and encourage companies to see the UK as an attractive place to develop and exploit intellectual property.

It has set aside billions of pounds to incentivise companies to undertake innovative activities and we know that many companies are not claiming all that they are entitled to.

The regional market place is a real hive of innovation, particularly in sectors such as manufacturing and automotive.

At PwC in Milton Keynes and the South Midlands, we have responded to a market that punches above its weight by helping companies take a holistic view of funding as part of their investment strategy.

We have restructured the way we work with companies to add the best value, and have relaunched our R&D team as the Innovation Incentives Group, working with many growing private businesses as well as large corporates in the region.

As a result, the IIG has saved companies £60 million in the last 12 months. These savings have come from R&D claims, grant funding, R&D capital allowances and patent box – the government’s new regime to incentivise companies to base their development and innovation activities in the UK.

We talk to businesses about the whole suite of innovation incentives available and look at funding through the full life cycle. By getting into the mindset of companies, we have not only saved them money, but have helped them create jobs and support long term growth.

We also advise global businesses and encourage them to consider funding as one of many factors when deciding on a location for R&D.

Innovative organisations are marked out by their visionary leadership, licence to explore new ideas, readiness to collaborate and ability to commercialise new ideas quickly.

I encourage businesses to consider if they are creating full value from innovation and to recognise its vital importance in sustaining growth.

  • The IIG team, which also draws on specialist industry expertise from PwC’s Consulting arm, is made up of 13 dedicated experts, including a newly created role focusing on European grant funding. For further information, contact Angela Browning e-mail angela.browning@uk.pwc.com  
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