Bonanza for Highlands and Islands companies
COMPANIES in the Highlands and Islands have proved they are punching above their weight in the innovation stakes, it has been revealed by Jumpstart, a UK research and development tax credit specialist.
Jumpstart has successfully claimed back on their behalf nearly £ 3 million from HMRC in recent years in recognition of initiatives they have introduced to improve working processes and make their businesses and the sectors in which they operate more efficient.
Highland and Western Isles companies gained the multi-million-pound benefit in the form of tax credits, part of the UK government’s innovation incentive schemes to maintain Britain’s place at the forefront of scientific and technological advance.
The reliefs successfully secured in the region since 2008 have totalled £2,851,157 from 56 submissions which were made on the companies’ behalf by Edinburgh-based Jumpstart. The average tax benefit in Highland region amounted to £43,638. In the Western Isles, it was £11,642.
Though one of the most sparsely populated regions of the United Kingdom, with only 23 people per square mile, the Highlands and Islands have superb natural resources, innovative enterprises and a well- educated and flexible workforce.
The region has a number of growth sectors, including energy (which benefits from transferrable skills from the oil and gas industry), life sciences, and food and drink, a sector marketing some of the best fresh produce in the country.
Ian Donaldson, client engagement manager at Jumpstart, said: ‘Despite the handicaps of distance and geography, smart companies in the Highlands and Western Isles are demonstrating that they can be as innovative as their city counterparts.
‘However, companies in Scotland as a whole are not reaping the full benefits which might be expected to accrue to them on a head of population basis. There is great scope in Scotland for a much more focused uptake of the scheme.’
One company in the Western Isles which has benefited from R&D tax credits is Lewis-based Hebridean Seaweed, the largest industrial seaweed processor in Great Britain.
Martin MacLeod, managing director, said: ‘The prospect of making a claim seemed daunting and we thought it would probably be a long, drawn out process, but it wasn’t.
‘One of Jumpstart’s analysts visited us on the island and made a point of understanding our harvesting, manufacturing and design processes. We now realise the importance not only of having a comprehensive knowledge of the legislation, but also of being able to apply it.’
Jumpstart was founded to address a huge opportunity in the market to engage with UK businesses by informing and guiding them through HMRC’s extremely complex R&D tax relief claim process. It operates throughout the UK.
Ian Donaldson from Jumpstart.