The Thames Valley Business Magazine Awards (TVBMA) are an annual highlight for many companies in one of the most dynamic regions for innovation and growth in the UK. The Awards, now in its 24th year is a chance to showcase excellence across a range of sectors, and GovGrant’s CFO Steve Phillips said that sponsoring the Awards gives his business a great chance to ‘get under the bonnet’ of all the shortlisted companies, and also network at the gala dinner too.
“Having sponsored a range of other awards, this is the first year that we have sponsored the TVBMA and were delighted to hand the award to Ultima for the best use of technology and innovation,” Phillips said.
He explained that GovGrant is one of the UK’s leading innovation and R&D tax specialists, helping hundreds of innovative firms claim tax credits from the Government which they can use to re-invest in the business. GovGrant also helps businesses claim for capital allowances, as well as guiding them through the ‘Patent Box’ process, a Government-backed scheme that rewards businesses who develop their own intellectual property.
“We are always on the lookout for innovative companies with a strong heritage in R&D,” said Phillips. “What is surprising is that so many businesses are unaware of the tax credit opportunities that exist.
“Our research shows that many UK businesses are unaware that they can make a claim, so a side benefit of the awards is that we can not only showcase our expertise via sponsorship, but also spread the word in the Thames Valley network.”
Phillips said he really enjoyed judging the shortlist of entries for the best use of technology and innovation. He said that as well as Ultima, the other finalists were FliteTrak, Open Cosmos, P2i, Redbox Mobile plc and SafeToNet. “All the finalists were truly excellent businesses with a terrific product set and an energetic management, but Ultima have achieved great things and rightly won the award, its second of the night.
Phillips said: “This is exactly the kind of company the UK needs if it is to win in the global marketplace of the future. I was impressed by how this 30-year-old business has been able maintain its position at the leading edge of innovation.”
He added: “Its focus on robotics (robotics process automation or RPA) for SMEs means smaller companies can now take advantage of robotics to carry out boring but important back-office tasks such as dispatch, or documentation, which save time and money, and free up employees to do more interesting roles.”
Phillips said that he was impressed that Ultima had introduced robotics process automation in its own business to prove its worth to customers and that had resulted in a two-fold increase in productivity.
The TVBMA was hosted by Radio 5 Live presenter Rachel Burden and special guest for the night was broadcasting legend Sir Trevor McDonald. The Awards come at a time of huge change for the UK, with Brexit around the corner, and Phillips said it was clear the issue was not far from the minds of many business leaders in the room.
“GovGrant is agnostic about Brexit, but we do believe that it gives the Government an opportunity to ‘reset the needle’ for innovation and R&D in the UK. There is no doubt that the Government is committed to innovation, through its industrial strategy, but we have to create world-leading conditions for innovation, both to make the UK a destination of choice for foreign investment and to provide maximum support for our homegrown UK businesses.”
He went on: ”Britain has always competed with its European counterparts for investment, but now we are leaving the EU, I’m convinced that competition will become much more intense, so we must considerably up our game.”
Phillips explained that backing innovative businesses made sound economic sense. “The Government’s own statistics show that £2.9 billion of tax relief claimed in 2015-16 stimulated up to £6.8b of additional R&D investment. The more we invest, the more we benefit as a nation.”
Phillips said that GovGrant, which is based in St Albans, has a large number of businesses seeking his team’s support along the Thames Valley, but “we are obviously keen to do more. We’ve had a fantastic time at the Awards this year, and are very proud to be a sponsor. I wish Ultima and all the finalists every success for 2019 and beyond.”