Bo­nanza for High­lands and Is­lands com­pa­nies

The Oban Times - - Business -

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.

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