Entrepreneurial businesses can capitalise on their innovations by taking advantage of government incentives. R&D tax relief adviser GovGrant’s chief executive officer Luke Hamm tells Tim Wickham why more UK companies should consider claiming the relief and protecting their intellectual property.
The Thames Valley has an abundance of companies involved in innovative R&D. But are businesses making the most of their innovations by claiming rebates on costs and using the money to continue investing in their ideas? Luke Hamm doesn’t think so.
“We are a nation of innovators, but we do tend to give away our good ideas,” he said. “GovGrant’s aim is to support businesses and help the UK maintain its position as a destination of choice for creativity and innovation.”
In terms of claiming R&D relief, innovation isn’t just about ‘light bulb’ breakthroughs. “For most companies, it’s more about making continuous small improvements to an innovative idea that delivers incremental, long-term growth,” he said. “We find that on average we can increase by more than 200% the amount that clients who make their own R&D relief claims receive.”
GovGrant was set up in 2006 by two businessmen who thought more could be done to support companies with bright ideas. Its clients range from small start-ups to FTSE 250 companies.
“The market for professional advice on claiming R&D tax relief is well established, but many firms just tell clients ‘there’s free money on the table and we can help you get it’. We feel that approach doesn’t go far enough. We offer advice and support both before and after claims are made,” said Hamm.
GovGrant charges a percentage of the relief received contingent on the claim being successful. “We offer free consultancy and if we don’t think a company has anything to claim, we won’t charge for visiting them,” said Hamm.
The company rebranded last year when Hamm joined to help take the business forward. He previously spent 10 years with insurer AON, where he honed his experience in sales and partnerships with SMEs, professional services companies and private clients.
‘Walk the floor’
Around half of GovtGrant’s 70-strong team are technical analysts – experts in a range of disciplines from mechanical engineering to bioscience and fintech. “We visit every client and find out what they do and how they are being innovative. We ‘walk the floor’ with them,” said Hamm. “We see the nuts and bolts of their operation, so we can identify their full R&D costs.”
The company prepares a report, makes the R&D relief claim, liaises with HMRC and defends claims, if necessary. Typically, it takes two to three weeks to carry out an assessment and submit the R&D relief claim. Refunds usually take about 28 days to be paid.
GovGrant offers three core services:
• R&D relief claims
The Government’s R&D tax relief scheme encourages innovation by offsetting the cost of developing new ideas. According to government statistics, 80% of SMEs are eligible but haven’t claimed. The average claim by SMEs is around £60,000. To date, GovGrant has delivered over £160 million of claim benefits to its clients.
• Patent Box scheme
The Government’s Patent Box scheme offers 10% lower corporation tax on profits earned from patented inventions. It rewards companies for developing, retaining and exploiting patents in the UK. “Our IP attorney advises whether it’s worth seeking a patent and we’ll then support the application process,” said Hamm.
• Claiming capital allowances
Capital allowances are available to UK businesses on freehold or leasehold interest in commercial property, as well as qualifying plant and machinery. GovGrant increasingly advises clients on claiming enhanced capital allowances on eligible energy-saving plant and equipment.
Commitment to UK entrepreneurs
“The UK has an amazing depth of expertise in so many innovative areas. Our clients are passionate about what they do, but often haven’t thought about fully commercialising their ideas,” said Hamm.
He emphasised his belief that current and future governments will continue supporting R&D through the R&D relief scheme as it is such an effective way of incentivising entrepreneurs and making sure the UK stays competitive on the global stage.