Innovation is fundamental to strength, businesses are told

innovation
Tim Vorley

Innovation is fundamental to success in today’s fast-moving business world, large and small manufacturing and service firms are being advised.

Businesses that innovate not only see higher growth, but are more resilient as they are better positioned to adapt to changes in the market, according to results of the Quarterly Economic Survey Q3 by Sheffield City Region, which includes significant areas of Derbyshire.

Business responses show that of those who say they innovate, 81% of manufacturing and 67% of services commit revenue to innovation/R&D in their business plans, but that 30% of firms don’t invest at all. It is said to be promising that 67% of manufacturing and service firms say that the amount they will spend on investment over the next 12 months will remain the same, while 30% said it will increase.

“Innovation translates into growth as businesses benefit from increased sales, by accessing new markets and boosting productivity. While there are incentives and support available for companies looking to innovate, the QES results show they’re not always widely taken up which represents an opportunity for the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub,” says Prof. Tim Vorley of Sheffield University Management School.

Of those firms that innovate, a high 84% do not claim any R&D tax relief and 82% have not accessed any public funding for innovation/R&D activities. Perhaps this is because 33% perceive public funding to be ‘available but not easily accessible’. Firms are more likely to innovate independently (32%) or with customers (29%) than with other businesses (20%) or universities (10%).

“Understandably, levels of innovation vary business to business and sector to sector,” continues Prof. Vorley, “The challenge for businesses and government is to foster a more collaborative culture that sees innovation become the norm.”

The City Region boasts an Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District to encompass and connect the wealth of local business and academic ideas and abilities to boost business and grow the local economy, but the survey shows that more can be done.

The Economic Survey results will be used by the region’s Chambers and Local Enterprise Partnership to better inform local, regional and national government and policy-makers on these and other business issues and help them to address any barriers that firms currently face with innovation and other business issues.

The Sheffield City Region Business Growth Hub offers free business innovation support and can advise on funded technical project support, specialist innovation coaching, innovative grants, R&D tax credits, innovative frameworks and new project development.

The Survey – run by the Sheffield City Region’s four Chambers of Commerce, with the support of the Local Enterprise Partnership, Growth Hub and Sheffield University Management School, and sponsored by The Source, Meadowhall – is part of a national survey coordinated by the British Chambers of Commerce to act as an economic indicator for the Bank of England and to advise Whitehall.