Oxfordshire: County comes top in regional innovation league

Oxfordshire leads the way as the county with the highest percentage of innovative businesses across the South East of England’s 19 unitary authority areas.

A total of 885 successful claims were made by Oxfordshire companies (2.67% of all enterprises within the area), including SMEs and large businesses, for R&D tax relief in the latest 2017-18 figures released by HMRC.

This puts Oxfordshire at the top of an Innovation League Table produced by innovation funding specialists ABGI UK. It shows the percentage of businesses making successful R&D tax claims in each of the region’s unitary authority areas.

The latest updated HMRC figures show that South East companies secured a total of 7,440 R&D tax relief claims in the 2017-18 period. A total of £810 million in tax relief was claimed on the back of over £6.1 billion worth of innovation-focused investment made by companies in the region.

The South East of England League Table shows Wokingham as the second most active area with 2.62% of businesses securing successful R&D tax relief claims while Reading ranked third with 2.16% of businesses claiming. Windsor and Maidenhead is at the foot of the table with only 0.75% of businesses securing a successful claim.

Commenting on the new figures, Chris Barker, innovation funding adviser at ABGI UK, said: “Today’s HMRC figures form the basis of our Innovation League Table. It shows Oxfordshire leading the way in making successful R&D tax relief claims in the South East of England. A relatively high percentage of local companies in key sectors such as life sciences and IT/software are driving its strong regional placement. Significant numbers of local businesses have been successful in securing R&D tax relief for their investment in innovation to improve operational processes and enhance competitiveness.

“At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is having such a detrimental impact on the UK economy, investment in innovation, with support in the form of R&D tax relief credits and other government incentive measures will be more essential than ever.”

Introduced in 2000, R&D tax credits are designed to drive competitiveness in British business by incentivising companies to invest in innovation.