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A major new report from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the University of Leeds reveals that the UK is more than two decades behind on its research and development (R&D) spending targets.

R&D plays a very important role in the growth, sustainability and success of business. R&D investment can identify solutions to future problems, help with the development of new products and services or align business focus on new or emerging markets. Investment in R&D provides a platform for creativity and innovation, often giving businesses a competitive edge, but can often be overlooked by UK business.

The report, ‘The Changing Nature of R&D’, highlights that the Government’s aim – for R&D investment to reach 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027 – is unlikely to be met until 2053, 26 years too late. This is unless the current rate of investment is increased.

The report recommends that the UK better position itself to take advantage of new innovation trends, so that it will remain a destination of choice for innovative businesses. While the Government has made the right commitments to raise UK R&D investment, urgent action is needed to secure a comprehensive and future-focused roadmap, underpinned by commitments to raise public funding, to build the UK’s strengths and capabilities around data and analytics.

If the UK is to successfully increase its R&D investment, and businesses are to harness the full capabilities offered by their data, then they will require help with accessing sources of R&D funding to aid with innovation.

Private sector assistance

One such organisation that can help businesses with investment in innovation is RTC North. One of Europe’s leading tech transfer companies, RTC North has vast experience helping organisations with all stages of the innovation and intellectual property (IP) commercialisation process and it uses this expertise to support partners across the UK, at a regional, national and European level.

RTC North works with individual businesses to help develop tailored business strategies. One programme it currently delivers, which is fully funded for qualifying businesses, is ‘Access Innovation’. The 12-hour support programme offers bespoke action plans for innovation, delivering lean techniques to improve operational performance. It helps businesses find partners in new and/or overseas markets, provides advice on IP management and trains staff to help them understand customer needs and the right value proposition for products and services.

Clarion are hosting two events in conjunction with RTC North in July and September to assist in the deliverance of the IP element of the ‘Access Innovation’ programme. SME, B2B businesses within the Leeds LEP region could be eligible for the fully-funded support to help maximise and safeguard their own IP. IP Audit Lites can also be offered as part of the programme to further protect your business and contribute towards its sustainability.

This level of comprehensive support with innovation, IP protection and R&D is invaluable for businesses, and with help from partners like RTC North, they can ensure they are best placed to receive and apply new levels of investment in their R&D.

Government funding

Government R&D funding is, of course, also available for businesses. Currently every year, thousands of businesses miss out on an average of £150,000 available to facilitate R&D from Government schemes, for reasons ranging from lack of awareness to poor guidance from advisors.

This suggests that making more Government money available for investment wouldn’t have the positive impact that it should, and that work needs to be done to improve how businesses can access Government R&D funding.

However, the money currently available to businesses to use for innovation is substantial and when claimed, can be of particular use to start-ups and SMEs, which can struggle in finding funding for their innovation strategies. The Government has recognised this struggle and rewards start-ups and SMEs on a larger scale, offering 33% return on their investment in R&D activity.


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