Just 15% of UK SMEs think the Government is creating an economic environment in which they are encouraged to innovate, according to new research by GovGrant, the R&D and IP specialists. This is despite the fact that over three quarters of these businesses consider innovation to be important for recovery from Covid-19, reaffirming the disconnect between businesses and the Government support schemes available.
The survey collected the views of over 500 SME decision-makers across seven different sectors. The findings show that whilst 85% of respondents acknowledged the importance of innovation, just 26% felt their current activity was highly innovative.
Luke Hamm, CEO, GovGrant, comments:
“Despite the Government’s R&D Roadmap outlining its commitment to R&D and innovation, our research shows the need for further support when it comes to recognising innovative activity. SMEs urgently need clarity and a common definition of innovation that transcends sectors, geography and generations if we’re going to plug the gap between the support that’s available and how SMEs make use of it. This is particularly true when it comes to IP.”
This might be the result of confusion around the definition of innovation, with respondents split across three different definitions – 42% of respondents said they viewed innovation as tiny and continual changes that happen daily, with the rest saying that it either happened rarely (but made a considerable impact) or occurred sporadically. This disconnect may well be the reason that many SMEs are failing to claim valuable tax credits for their R&D, with nearly a quarter stating they had never done so.
GovGrant’s research also revealed that 43% of UK SMEs do not have anyone in charge of the commercialisation of intellectual property and innovation at Board level. As a result, only a quarter of respondents (24%) thought the main purpose of a patent was to add commercial value, and one fifth said they had no strategy in place to track their IP.
Luke Hamm concludes:
“Innovation has never been more important for creating a resilient and productive economy post Covid-19, especially with Brexit and the end of the transition period also fast approaching. We need to be taking intellectual property much more seriously. The Government must do more to improve awareness and accessibility of its support schemes, including the Patent Box, if SMEs are going to invest in their R&D and thrive. We urgently need to review the patent process and make it attractive on the global stage.”