R&D tax reliefs and grants work … will Patent Box work better?

Innovation is one of the best drivers of growth for an owner managed business… and luckily the Government really does get it… offering some bonkersly brilliant and accessible help that actually works for companies like yours…

As a form of Corporate Welfare (which I’m generally against) these innovation-orientated tax breaks and grants rather surprisingly do what they’re supposed to do… boost productivity and create jobs (which I absolutely love)

Innovate UK are busy getting grant money out to innovative firms… and, as the Enterprise Research Centre recently reported, the range of grants available has made a real impact… Over a 13-year period, R&D grants spurred growth worth £43bn to the British economy – more than five times the £8bn invested – and created around 150,000 jobs

… one helluva an ROI

But R&D Tax Reliefs  are doing even better imo… not only does research suggest this tax saving for SMEs is working financially…  Our current evaluation suggests that for each £1 of tax foregone, between £1.53 and £2.35 of R&D expenditure is stimulated… I believe it is changing the mindset of some of the companies applying…  

What started out as an attempt to justify a claim for a extra tax deductions and get money back from HMRC… is morphing into a mindset shift for the companies involved as they start to genuinely put innovation at the heart of what they do…

And I think the Patent Box could take that shift towards innovation to a completely different level…

The tax relief for having a Patent is now so good that companies I tell about it immediately start to think what they are doing or can do that’ll lead to a narrow patent and get them a 10% Corporation Tax rate for a couple of decades…

Changing minds is surely one of the hardest things for a Government to do… but, because of these innovative tax reliefs, minds really are changing when it comes to innovation

Here’s a couple of older blog posts on the subject…

R&D Relief

First Claim

Patent Box

And a great (if slightly technical) site for keeping up to date with any odd updates to the tax reliefs…

Keeping tabs on changes to reliefs





An innovative competition ?

Innovate UK continue to have a ton of money to help SMEs do good stuff… and don’t let the titles of some of their funding initiatives put you off…

You’d think this multi-million pound pot of grant funding to be given away soon applies just to George Osbourne’s ‘makers’ …

Innovate UK Launches Manufacturing and Materials Innovation Competition (UK)

… not true… e.g. it can be the novel application of a digital technology or approach to manufacturing or materials development (such as automation, modelling and simulation, data analysis). 




Grants… saw this, thought of you…

If you haven’t seen it, here’s a great site for sniffing out grants (& other funding for UK businesses & social enterprises)…

… an email address is all you need…

Idox… grants for business


Pete Wild - Pop Up Start Up Judge, Value Builder, Business Mentor and angles

Insights and Angles … first look


Insights & Angles is our first effort at a short video covering the world of Owner Managed Businesses… all put together by Sam Edge and friends at Squid Digital.

Justin Dooley from Caffe Cream, Pam Nugent from M&P Engineering, and lawyers Tom Hutchinson, James Robey & Mark Jolly get us off to a great start… discussing Grants, Kickstarter, the power of Video & SEO, IP funding… and onions…

Here’s a tad more detail on the video :

Justin Dooley, owner of Caffe Cream, discusses his national-award winning Ice Cream business… and his fund raising efforts. As a young entrepreneur, lack of collateral and capital has meant banks are reluctant to give Justin the support he wants… so having secured a £115k grant with a commitment to create jobs, Justin is turning to Kickstarter to raise the final slug of cash for his new factory.

(I’ll do a fuller post on Kickstarter as a source of perk-based capital soon)

Pamela Nugent, MD of M&P Engineering, discusses how putting up a video on youtube of her giant sit-on onion peeler has lead to a surge of enquiries, sales & holidays around the world. I admit to a bit of a stainless steel fetish… & it’s truly great to see Pam’s engineering shipping out globally thanks to video, youtube & SEO… could it do the same for you?

Tom Hutchinson of HutchinsonIP discusses funding available for Intellectual Property (IP) protection, with more details on the ‘free money’ IP audit grant provided by CTA (tax accountant) & MCFC fan Wendy Wild… (& I’ve done a blog post on the grant here : IP Audit… treat yourself for Xmas )

James Robey & Mark Jolly of Wilson Gunn chip in… this is their firm’s 15oth anniversary year… and having helped Manchester through the industrial revolution we’ll be getting a lot more help from them in our special edition video on the Patent Box.





IP Audit

IP Audit… treat yourself for Xmas

IP Audit Plus 2014 is a ‘free money’ £3k grant for SMEs like you to have a pro come in and see if you have any Intellectual Property that could be protected.

This is not ‘matched funding’… and the Government’s IP Office writes the £3k cheque directly to the IP pros who do your audit… so absolutely no cash outflows or costs for you.

It’ll cover IP such as copyrights, designs, trademarks… and it’ll see if you have any processes or products that could patented…

I’ve written about Patents before (and will do so again & again) because the new Patent-Box tax relief scheme could halve your corporation tax for the next 15 to 20 years… and, with schemes like ‘IP Audit Plus’, getting a patent needn’t cost what you think…

3 steps to saving money checking & registering your IP :

1. Some Patent lawyers such as James Robey & Mark Jolly at Wilson Gunn, and Tom Hutchinson at HutchinsonIP will have a completely free first consultation to talk through your IP possibilities & the prospects of getting it registered

2. The IP Audit Plus 2014 will grant fund a complete review of your possible IP options

3. Various ERDF supported regional funds and organisations such as MAS will then help with some of the costs of actually filing & registering your IP (typically on a ‘matched funding’ basis = they pay half)… I’ll cover these funders in a later post… but filing a narrow UK patent can cost as little as £2k to £8k and may take less than a year… and save you masses of tax… for you to reinvest in your business…

First steps?

1. Talk to an IP lawyer…

2. Then look to take up the IP Audit grant… it’s initially assessed & dealt with through your local Growth Accelerator (it’s classed as ‘Growth through Innovation’…).. in Scotland it’s through Scottish Enterprise, in Wales through the Welsh Government

But look sharp… the free funding ends in March 2015

So why not treat yourself for Xmas?


Here’s a must-read doc about Government support for companies like yours & your IP


And here’s a tad more detail for the interested from an article I was asked to write for someone else:


… IP Audit Plus 2014 – available via the Growth Accelerator money and minimal stress

Why should you bother to get your products, processes or services patented?……to increase their commercialisation, increase the value of your business or to take advantage of HMRC’s patent box scheme…….what ever your reasons ensure that you don’t miss out on the opportunity of a £3k grant to have an Intellectual Property audit done for your business.

To help you maximise your IP the government, through the intellectual property office (IPO), are offering grants of up to £3k to businesses to have an intellectual property audit carried out… allowing you to get a handle on your IP position without having to pay a penny and with minimal stress… but be quick the grants are due to end by 31 March 2015

So what do you have to do and what will it cost… the great news is, is that it won’t cost you anything apart from a bit of time in completing a form and then having a chat with your IP auditor when he visits.

The IP office work with intermediaries to carryout the paperwork and for audits done in England this is the GrowthAccelerator. (

Contact the GrowthAccelerator for your region and you will be put in touch with an IP professional for your region……….complete a couple of pages on an application form (so not to onerous) and you’ll be on your way, but remember to tick their boxes…….they are looking for you to..

….demonstrate that there is a sound business need for the grant

….IP is integral part of the company’s long term strategy and growth plan

….if successful the business will have dedicated resource, including potential financial resource, to carry out the businesses IP strategy

….show that IP is significant to the development and commercialisation of the business’s product/service offering. (perhaps with a view to export or license your products)

Your IP Professional will oversee your application thereon in by reviewing it and submitting it on your behalf to the IPO for approval…… it is effectively pre-vetted the approval only takes a couple of days and you then have two months in which to have your audit and for your IP Professional to submit his report to the IPO office

The great news is, that the IP Office pay your IP Professional direct so you don’t have any cash flow issues.

Once you have your report you will have to decide if you want to continue the process, and prepare and file and application for a patent, (registered trade mark or registered design) and unfortunately the grant of £3k that your professional has received cannot be used for this…….but costs at this stage can be minimised considerably if you narrow your patent …. and there are additional sources of funding to help with cost…

The Government & HMRC are genuinely behind companies who are trying to innovate… and chances are that’s you… so it’s well worth letting them help you !?!

Here’s a must read doc for IP funding from the government



Grant funding for innovation … the SME Instrument

So… the first round of SME grants have been awarded… worth the hassle?

The SME Instrument offers a 50,000 Euro cash grant for a feasibility study into an innovative project.

It has 4 application deadlines in the year… and 26 UK projects were awarded the grant in the June round…

Good news for them… 50,000 Euros in cash… almost no strings (and the 30% ‘funding’ the company themselves has to chuck in can be ‘in kind’ = their time..). They also get themselves onto the inside track for further (much chunkier) funding opportunities as the project develops.

Good news for the UK too… only Spain had more successful applications

Problem is… there were 232 applications from the UK… for just 26 successes… a 90% fail rate

That’s alot of effort and energy for nothing…

… so what’s to be done?

The EU themselves say : “The applications process is easy but only the very best projects can expect to receive funding”

So how do you be the best..?

Well… you can be the best… or be the best prepared… ?

Do the standard stuff … read all about the instrument… read the FAQs… then…
Do the right stuff… get on the phone to your regional Enterprise Europe Network … they have people who really are waiting to help the UK get a better result than a ‘90% fail’… and they know how the Euro funding game is played…

You can get other people on your side too… there are grant getters in the space like Pera… but I’m told the application process really is easy (certainly compared to previous Euro grants) … and if they knock you back… you get to pick yourself up and go again…

Overall though… a 90% fail rate isn’t really acceptable… it’s slightly outrageous that government schemes are wasting so much time of so many busy applicants… the very people they’re supposed to help… (if bankers turned down 90% of SME funding applications there’d be uproar… & rightly so)

The application deadline for the next Phase 1 round is 24th September 2014…

EU press machine
EASME (Executive Agency for SMEs)
FAQs : SME Instrument

Here’s a quick cut & paste …. Feasibility assessment (phase 1)

Funding is available for: exploring and assessing the technical feasibility and commercial potential of a breakthrough innovation that a company wants to exploit and commercialize.

Activities funded could be: risk assessment, design or market studies, intellectual property exploration; the ultimate goal is to put a new product, service or process in the market, possibly through an innovative application of existing technologies, methodologies, or business processes.

The project should be aligned to the business strategy, helping internal growth or targeting a transnational business opportunity.

Amount of funding: lump sum of €50,000 (per project, not per participating business).

Duration: typically around 6 months

Outcome: The outcome of a phase 1 project is a feasibility study (technical and commercial), including a business plan.

Should the conclusion of the study be that the innovative concept has the potential to be developed to the level of investment readiness/market maturity, but requires additional funding in view of commercialisation, the SME can apply for Phase 2 support.