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Innovate UK launches new peer networks for scaling businesses

Innovate UK, the UK innovation agency, has launched a nationwide peer learning initiative for scaleup business leaders, in collaboration with the ScaleUp Institute.

Innovate UK EDGE, the agency’s business growth & scaling service, has selected 200 founders, MDs and CEOs at innovative scaling businesses from its portfolio of clients to participate in 14 Scaleup Peer Networks across the UK.

The peer groups, comprising members from different sectors, will provide a structured and confidential forum for the scaleup business leaders to address their most important business growth priorities and challenges. They will also be able to draw on resources relevant for their needs such as expertise from the ScaleUp Institute’s global network and meet international business peers.

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The ScaleUp Institute’s annual business survey of scaleup leaders consistently highlights peer networks as a key source of support, with 5 in 10 stating that easier access to a network of peers is vital or very important for their future growth. Furthermore, in terms of public sector support, scaleups cite support from Innovate UK as most vital.

Small Business Minister Paul Scully MP said: “Ensuring businesses of every size and shape can benefit from world-leading expertise to help them grow will be a key part of this Government’s vision for levelling up the whole of the country. This programme from Innovate UK and the Scaleup Institute delivers just that, providing world-leading insight and expertise that will complement our Help to Grow: Management scheme.”

Indro Mukerjee, CEO at Innovate UK, said: “I am very pleased to launch the Scaleup Peer Networks, which will help capable leaders across the UK to grow their innovation-driven businesses at pace. I know how valuable the participants will find learning from ambitious and knowledgeable peers and look forward to seeing how their businesses thrive.

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“The Scaleup Peer Networks are also a great example of Innovate UK’s deep investment in innovative companies, which helps these dynamic businesses succeed and become the engines of renewal and economic growth.”

ScaleUp Institute Chief Executive Irene Graham OBE said: “Scaleup leaders consistently tell us about the great value they derive from learning from their peers. Strong, trusted peer networks between scaleups can have a powerful impact on their individual performance, and they must be fostered. We are delighted that Innovate UK is now building these peer groups into its Innovate UK EDGE service and to be working with it on this exciting initiative to support some of the UK’s most innovative, scaling firms. These groups will work in tandem with local scaleup offerings so our scaling businesses have an escalator of support across their ongoing and developing needs, which is so vital.”

By Barney Cotton

Source: Business Leader

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Farmers urged not to miss out on 230% R&D tax credit

One of the country’s top agricultural accountants has said UK farmers could do more to capitalise on a lucrative tax break designed to encourage investment in research and development (R&D).

Addressing members of the Guild of Agricultural Journalists in Northern Ireland on Thursday (May 13), Seamus McCaffrey said businesses that are registered as companies could avail of as much as 230% tax credit for money invested in R&D.

McCaffrey, who specialises in farming taxation matters, said trialling different seed varieties, farm technology, or experimenting with different feeding regimes, cattle genetics or types of lighting (for example, in a poultry house), could all be eligible.

“It’s very useful but it’s important to note that it applies to companies only,” he said.

“A surprising amount of R&D is carried out on farms. If a farmer is doing reseeding and he does a bit of trial and error with different types of grass seed, that can constitute R&D. The extra costs involved in that constitutes research and development costs, and could thereby entitle the company to claim a 230% tax credit.”

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Are My Farm Trials Eligible?

To claim the credit, the company must self-certify in its annual accounts. However, McCaffrey warned the company must also retain evidence of carrying out the trials.

“So you just can’t decide at the end of the year that the company has a big tax bill and say ‘I did R&D’ – you’ll not get away with that. There must be a bit of resource allocated to it demonstrating and recording the fact research had been carried out,” he said.

“If, for the sake of argument, we are talking about reseeding, and we are claiming that we are spending money on trials then you could have emails backwards and forwards with the grass seed supplier discussing what kind of research you want to do as evidence – that kind of thing.

“Detailed records must be kept and they must be kept for four years because that’s how far back the revenue can ask for them.

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“You must also keep evidence of the results. It doesn’t matter whether the result is good or bad, it’s the fact that R&D has been carried out.”

The research must also be applicable to your own farm, so McCaffrey highlights that testing whether research carried out overseas or in different parts off the UK and Ireland applies to your specific enterprise could also be eligible.

“A lot of farmers already do R&D work on the farm but don’t realise they are doing it. They often don’t realise to raise it with their accountant because they simply didn’t know that the R&D work they are carrying out on the farm is eligible for the extra 230%.

“Some people imagine or think that R&D means you have to be linked to a university or that you have to have a dedicated research facility – you don’t have to have anything like that,” he concluded.

By Rachel Martin

Source: AgriLand

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Firm turns up the heat with more Innovate UK funding

An electric heating solutions business has received more funding from Innovate UK, to help it continue the development and launch of a digital thermostat that will work remotely on its electrical radiator systems.

Garforth-based Trust Electric Heating will invest £70,000 into its research and development programme, which aims to help eliminate fuel poverty for vulnerable people across the UK.

The project, which is being driven via a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Huddersfield, has already seen the creation of an integrated smart thermostat for Trust Electric’s own range of heaters.

The new round of funding will focus on the development of “CAVE”, due to its focus on solving fuel poverty issues for “Confined, Adults who are Vulnerable and Elderly”.

The web-based technology enables remote monitoring, diagnosis and control of electric heating systems, providing help and support for many who struggle with digital thermostat programming.

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“Fuel poverty is an issue for everyone,” said Trust Electric’s managing director Fiona Conor, who is leading the project team in partnership with the University of Huddersfield.

“During the pandemic it has been highlighted that many vulnerable adults are having challenges controlling their heating.

“Ordinarily, we would schedule a visit but this can take up to two weeks, which causes frustration and affects the well-being of the customer.

“However, under current circumstances, a home visit is not an option for many customers who are self-isolating.

“When smart thermostats were launched, no one really thought about less-digitally savvy people.

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“Some customers simply turn their thermostats to manual and lose the advantages that are available on energy savings.

“Everyone offers big button controls but they are forgotten as customers don’t really know how to control their thermostats.

“Our CAVE thermostat gives us full remote control. We can look at timings and discuss energy efficiency together.

“Our web-based interface sends ‘traffic light’ signals, giving us an amber warning for a variety of faults.

“This then enables our office to put in a quick call to the individual without visiting the property, and stops the problems this group encounters such as waiting for engineers to visit if something is not working.”

By Miran Rahman

Source: The Business Desk

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Rinri Therapeutics has secured a grant from Innovate UK

Rinri Therapeutics Secures Innovate UK Funding Grant for £3.2m Project to Advance its Novel Cell-Based Therapy to Restore Hearing Loss

Rinri Therapeutics (‘Rinri’), a biotechnology company developing a novel cell-based therapy to restore hearing loss, is delighted to announce that it has secured a grant from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. This grant will fund a £3.2 million project to further develop Rinri’s novel stem cell therapy to reverse sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) an area where there remains a significant global unmet need.

The project will be led by Rinri in collaboration with the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGTC), and the Universities of Sheffield and Nottingham.

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Over the course of the project, the CGTC will help establish a process and analytical tools for clinical trial manufacture of Rinri’s stem cell therapy for hearing loss, Sheffield University will further the nonclinical data package and Nottingham University will develop the necessary techniques for the first in human trial of Rinri’s cell-based therapy to restore hearing loss.

Rinri’s underlying technology, based on innovative stem cell research originating from the University of Sheffield, seeks to reverse SNHL by repairing the damaged cytoarchitecture in the inner ear. SNHL happens when there is damage to the hair cells in the cochlear and/or the auditory nerve. There are currently no pharmacological treatments available for SNHL despite the rapid increase in the number of patients that suffer from this condition globally.

Dr Simon Chandler, CEO of Rinri Therapeutics, commented: “We are delighted to receive this substantial grant from Innovate UK to conduct further important research into our stem cell therapy for hearing loss. We have made superb progress in refining and optimising our technology following our ground-breaking proof of concept data. This grant will be instrumental in supporting the development and initiating clinical studies of our pioneering approach to reverse hearing loss.”

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Matthew Durdy, CEO of the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult added: “Rinri’s cutting-edge stem cell therapy is a very exciting development in the field, and we look forward to working with them to prepare for clinical manufacture. Combining forces under this Innovate UK funded grant will help accelerate the development of this promising technology.”

Andrew Hogben, Head of Impact and Intellectual Property at the University of Sheffield said: “Given Rinri was founded on pioneering research led by Professor Marcelo Rivolta at the University of Sheffield, we are really excited to participate in Rinri’s Innovate UK funded project alongside Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and Nottingham University to advance this novel treatment into the clinic.“

Professor Douglas Hartley, from the School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham, said: “This significant award from Innovate UK is a substantial boost to our pioneering UK partnership that could lead to a revolution in the treatment of disabling hearing loss.”

Source: Pharmi Web

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Potential impacts to your R&D tax claim

The 2021 budget announcement limits the size of some R&D tax cash benefits, but will it impact your claim?

The R&D tax credit scheme rewards companies for facing challenges and uncertainties by developing new processes or methodologies or improving on existing ones (technological advancements). All while using a systematic approach.

In the construction industry, the general activity of most companies will not be driven by technological advancements instead, they are generally driven by a client-led goal e.g. renovating a listed building. The way the construction industry advances, especially within the SME market, is through the challenges it faces. 

On Wednesday 3rd March, Rishi Sunak made possibly one of the most important modern budget announcements, outlining the plan to get our economy back on-track and providing us with insight regarding: the increase in corporation tax, the impact this will have on research & development expenditure credit (RDEC) and SMEs, the super deduction and, finally, the R&D tax review.

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Corporation tax

The rate of corporation tax will increase to 25% from April 2023, a 6% increase from the current rate of 19%. The increase is expected to raise £22bn in revenues per year whilst keeping the UK’s rate of corporation tax as the lowest in the G7.

The smallest companies will not be affected as a small profits rate will be introduced for businesses with less than £50,000 profit. These businesses, which is estimated to account for 70% of actively trading companies, will continue to pay corporation tax at the current rate of 19%. A tapered rate will also be introduced for profits of over £50,000 so that only businesses with profits above £250,000 will be taxed at the full rate of 25%.

Super-deduction

For a two-year period from 1st April 2021 until 31st March 2023 businesses will be able to claim the super-deduction on their investment in qualifying plant and machinery. This will allow companies to deduct 130% of what they invest from their taxable profits in the form of a capital allowance. This equates to a saving of 25p for every £1 invested in plant and machinery.

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The aim is to encourage businesses to invest. Levels of business investment in the UK, already low in comparison with the UK’s peers, have fallen sharply during the pandemic with a reduction of 11.6% between Q3 2019 and Q3 2020. The super-deduction aims to give companies the incentive and the confidence to invest in their business and ultimately promote economic growth.

R&D tax consultation

The government will be running a review of the R&D tax relief scheme which plays a vital part in promoting innovation and stimulating growth in the UK economy. The government has set a target or raising total investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. The consultation, therefore, aims to ensure that the current R&D tax relief schemes in the UK are still fit for purpose.

The consultation will seek the views of stakeholders on the R&D tax relief schemes currently in operation and will focus on:

  • Definitions, eligibility and scope of the reliefs – are they up to date with modern business practices and do they currently exclude activities that should qualify?
  • How well they operate for businesses and HMRC – are there ways they could be improved in terms of structure and administration?
  • Targeting of the reliefs – do they maximise the value of R&D activity for the UK economy.

Source: The Construction Index

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UK government appoints Indro Mukerjee as new Innovate UK CEO

The UK Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, has appointed Indro Mukerjee as the new CEO of Innovate UK, an organisation seeking to help develop the UK innovation and drive investment in research and development.

Specifically, he will be responsible for developing the UK’s innovation capability, driving investments in research and development (R&D) and technologies of the future.

However, the appointment is also meant to transition Innovate UK from a grant funding body “to an agency focused on driving economic growth by working with companies to de-risk, enable and support innovation, while unleashing private sector investment into research and development,” says the government.

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“I want innovation to be at the heart of our efforts to build back better, and to achieve this we need strong leadership from experienced innovators, with business know-how, who can help unleash the UK’s vast scientific and technological potential,” said Kwarteng.

“Along with his passion for science and technology, Indro boasts impressive credentials having worked at the top tier of businesses of all sizes and across different industries. I look forward to working closely with him at the helm of Innovate UK, which will be a crucial vehicle in accelerating business-led innovation and technology, driving economic growth, creating high-value jobs and cementing the UK’s status as a science superpower.”

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The experienced technology executive and business leader will take up the post immediately.

“Throughout my career, I have had a strong personal passion for the journey from scientific discovery through to innovation and ultimately commercialisation of technology,” said Mukerjee. “I have seen that journey at first hand across many settings, industries, countries and types of business. I will use this experience as I lead Innovate UK and work with the Secretary of State to deliver the government’s innovation strategy.”

Source: Electronics Weekly

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