Richard Thompson has spent the largest part of his professional life offering help, support, and advice to small businesses.
In previous jobs, he helped people who run start-up and established companies navigate the often difficult and complicated process of applying for grant funding. Public funded grants are designed to support small companies expand and grow and to create new jobs, but the process is often surrounded by bureaucracy.
Richard, who is based in the South East Midlands, worked with his Local Enterprise Partnership and more recently with the Food Enterprise Advisory Support Team. At GovGrant, he is now using his skills and experience working with SMEs to apply for funding under the Research and Development Tax Credit scheme.
In his new role, Richard spends most of his time talking to businesses about how they can access extra revenue streams and capitalise on the available Government-backed incentives. The biggest difference to his previous jobs is how much easier and straight-forward it is to access funding under the R&D Tax Credit regime.
The 28-year-old said “As a business applying for Government funding can be a very difficult and complex process. Businesses have to jump through all sorts of hoops and the process can be very lengthy and time-consuming. People who are busy running their own business often don’t have the time to spare to deal with complicated forms and questionnaires. What has surprised me in my new role is how straightforward the R&D tax credit scheme is compared to accessing other sources of revenue.”
He added: “When you compare the R&D Tax Credit scheme to other grants the process is much more straightforward and less complicated. It seems to me that if a business is looking for extra funding then it is the logical way forward. We hold an initial meeting with the client to talk to them about how they may qualify and then an analyst will spend a couple of days with the business. After that, we manage the process right through to completion.”
Richard is convinced that many businesses are failing to realise how they have used innovation to expand and develop.
According to the most recent figures just over 21,000 SMEs applied for R&D Tax Credit Relief in 2016 which means hundreds of thousands of businesses are still missing out on potential revenue. The average claim under the scheme is around £60,000 but according to some estimates, the number of SMEs in the UK which have taken advantage of tax credit relief is as low as ten percent.
Traditionally R&D has been linked to manufacturing and technology-driven enterprises. But Richard believes that firms operating in most sectors will have used Research and Development at some stage to improve the way they do things. Most recently he worked in the food and drink sector and during his time he has helped and supported hundreds of small firms.
“All good businesses are constantly assessing the way they do things and looking to improve what they do and how they do it,” he said.
Richard continued: “Research and Development and innovation is a key part of running a business. What has surprised me is how many businesses failed to recognise just how creative and innovative they are. Our job at GovGrant is to help our clients recognise innovation and to support them through the application process. There are a lot of businesses missing out and the potential is enormous.”
He added: “I consider myself very lucky doing the job that I do, I get to spend my time talking to business people from all backgrounds. I get a unique insight into how businesses and business people work. There are a lot of misconceptions about what can and what can’t be defined as research and development. There are a lot of grey areas, but we are here to help and advise people to ensure the value of their claim is maximised. As well as spending my time with creative and driven people I also get to help them take the next step in building their business, it can be incredibly rewarding.”