Research & Innovation Conference: Accelerating Growth

5th Annual Research & Innovation Conference: Accelerating Growth, Stimulating UK Innovation

Date: Thursday 27th November 2014
Venue: etc Venues – Dexter House, Central London
Time: 08:30 – 16:30.



Research and innovation are at the heart of government strategy for promoting prosperity and growth. The UK’s research base is second in the world to the US for scientific excellence. Driving knowledge and development and exploitation of new technologies is central to the government’s Industrial Strategy.

Universities are a key component in positioning the UK as a key knowledge economy at the forefront of 21st century innovation. As centres of research excellence, they are key drivers of economic growth. They lay the foundation for further knowledge and wealth, and are a vital element in the development of economic growth, as outlined in the Witty Review.

Mind the Gap!

- , Research & Innovation.

Professor Mike Holcombe will be giving a talk entitled “Mind the Gap!” at 12:30pm

  • There is a gap between what industry needs and what university research can provide
  • Projects, funding mechanisms and culture prevent rapid university response to business need
  • New structures such as the ACRC can transform this
  • Computing and data are at the heart of almost all business activity
  • Big data and beyond – opportunities for all
Read More

Big Data Puzzle

The world of data is exploding in our “always on” connected culture. “Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone” according to IBM.

The term Big Data is commonplace; many believe that it will transform business and government, but its real meaning remains vague. In a nutshell Big Data refers to both structured data (sensor data, sales data, etc.) and unstructured data (social media, text documents, video, etc.). Often it is real time data offering the Holy Grail for any company looking to predict future trends. Not all of it is new, but data is now available faster, its coverage and scope is wider, and includes new types of observations and measurements that were previously unavailable.

Companies and policymakers are realising the potential of their data; however, making sense of it and finding meaningful and real information that can be used to help us improve our lives and businesses is still a challenge. Imagine a box containing jigsaw puzzle pieces; it’s simply overwhelming: how do you know where to start? You empty the box and space every piece out. A complex algorithm in your brain searches and analyses pieces that fit together. However, finding these pieces and placing them together doesn’t give you the information you need until the picture is complete. With several puzzles mixed together, the information they give you does not become apparent until you finally look at all the images.

90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone


Of course, this is an oversimplification; analysing data can often highlight pieces of information that you would never have thought about, some insights into new trends and potential opportunities. Consider the Google Flu trend a few years back. Google tracked the outbreak by finding a correlation between what people searched for online; it saw the patterns and was able to watch the spread far quicker than medical professionals.

Moving beyond simply tracking the outbreak, imagine being able to predict where it’ll hit next or its potential economic impact. Predictive models created by the ACRC are utilised in critical transactional systems and support decisions and actions in near real time. Planners and managers need to understand how complex environments will work in practice and understand potential problems before they occur. Urban planning, healthcare, train stations and airports all need to understand factors such as pedestrian flow and the impact of unexpected events. By focusing on understanding business challenges and delivering action-orientated solutions, these models can analyse multiple aspects of individual behaviour in differing conditions and scenarios. Analysing multiple instances of a given decision to identify the most effective action to take can provide valuable insights that help reduce cost and risk.

The ACRC specialises in the latest research in data analytics and complex simulation to bring these puzzle pieces together. We combine these technologies to produce powerful predictive models often using supercomputers to provide advanced decision support and analysis. Our state of the art research provides real information and knowledge from data that can be acted upon to maximise opportunities.

Published in the September version of Modern Gov Magazine

Read More

SME Research and Development Tax Credits

Thousands of UK companies are eligible for R&D Tax Credits but many are unaware of the scheme, think they don’t qualify, or simply don’t know how to do it.

The government scheme, believe it or not, has been running for over 10 years but of course the rules have changed over that time. The thinking behind this scheme is to encourage, through tax incentives, SMEs to invest in innovation to boost the UK’s economic advantage and growth through its ability to deliver innovative products.

R&D Tax Credits work by reducing your taxable profit and therefore reducing your corporation tax. Don’t worry if you have little tax or even no Corporation tax in the first place, or if you’re a start-up and you haven’t paid any corporation tax yet, R&D tax credits can be transferred into cash, providing help for your cash flow.

R&D Tax Credits work by reducing your taxable profit and therefore reducing your corporation tax.

So how much can I get? Let’s say, for example, for every £100,000 you spend on research and development up to £225,000 could be deducted when calculating your taxable profits (or relievable losses). The tax claim is 225% of the qualifying R&D expenditure, so as your company would have already accounted for £100,000, the balance of £125,000 would be an additional deduction from your taxable profit. Loss making companies can claim up to 14.5% .
The scheme is quite broad so research can even include some aspects of Software Development. Not all activities involved in development are claimable activity, but generally, if you are a start-up developing a product which involves issues with scalability, integration, algorithmic development and technical innovation (there’s the word) then these companies tend to qualify.

The two key criteria for being eligible for tax credits are “Innovation” and “Uncertainty”.

Common Misconceptions:

“We only do R&D for our clients not ourselves”

Many companies conduct research for partners as subcontractors and therefore believe it is only their clients that can claim for the R&D work. However, if you as a subcontractor are taking an element of risk, you can still be eligible for R&D Credits. If your company is taking a risk by innovating, improving or developing a process, product or service, then it can qualify for R&D Tax Credits.

“It’s not ground-breaking research”

A web developer that creates simple sites for their clients in WordPress will be unlikely to qualify for tax credits. However if your work has an element of complexity by, perhaps, integrating systems in a new and untested way, creating custom/bespoke software or developing algorithms or even incorporating augmented reality, you will be likely to qualify. It is not so much about new features and functions within software or the web but about the processes behind these features and functions. If there is technological uncertainty, it could potentially qualify.

“We haven’t done any research for two years”

Don’t worry. You can claim R&D tax credits for your last two accounting periods.

“We’ve received grant funding”

The amount you can claim back becomes limited once you have been in receipt of grant funding, but this doesn’t mean you won’t qualify. If you receive some or all of the costs of an R&D project only the unsubsidised costs may be claimed as R&D Tax Credit. This rule is stricter if the grant money comprises any form of State Aid, as defined by the EU, where a partial subsidy paid to an SME may disqualify the whole of otherwise qualifying expenditure from R&D Tax Credit.

So what can be claimed?

Costs must be ‘revenue’ in nature and not capital expenditure (there is a special Capital Allowances regime for R&D-related capital expenditure). Only specific types of expenditure can qualify for R&D:

  • Staffing costs of directors and employees directly associated with the R&D activity. Pure administrative activity and similar support staff will not be eligible but occasionally in some cases an apportionment of costs may be eligible.
  • An apportion of Software and/or consumable items (including water, fuel and power),where necessary.
  • Agency employees, or workers who are ‘externally provided’ and actively engaged on R&D. Claimable costs are based on 65% of the payment actually made.

Generally HMRC aim to deal with 95% of claims within 28 days. So it is always worth taking a look. There are many companies out there that specialise in retrieving tax benefit, so why not take a look?

Full details of the scheme can be found here

Read More