Today the Innovation Caucus and the Enterprise Research Centre published a joint report commissioned by Innovate UK into how supported businesses have weathered the pandemic. The research led by Professor Stephen Roper and Professor Tim Vorley highlights that the implications and impacts of COVID-19 have not adversely affected Innovate UK funded firms, many of which have shown great resilience and innovation.
- In general terms firms had either maintained current levels of collaboration or seen it decline often due to the inability of partners to access laboratory or other facilities. Around 1:3 firms collaborating with universities said they had reduced levels of collaboration over this period. Few firms are planning to increase their level of spend with around two-thirds planning no change and 1:6 planning to reduce spend by more than 50 per cent.
- Around two-thirds of firms regarded their IUK project as ‘progressing, but behind the planned schedule’. Around 10 per cent of projects were described as ‘paused’. Only a small proportion of projects (1.3 per cent) were ‘stopped permanently’. Project delays were more likely among larger firms and those in the manufacturing sector.
- The main reasons for disruption to projects were access to buildings or facilities due to the lock-down and the availability of collaborating partners. Together these were reported by around half of all respondents. Disruption to revenues was also a significant reason for project disruption among micro-businesses and among those in the broad hospitality, transport and finance sector.
- Around two-third of firms suggested future R&D plans remained unchanged. The other third of firms were slowing down or cutting back on their projects.
- The majority of firms indicated that they would benefit from additional financial support from IUK. Perhaps surprisingly only around 1:5 firms suggested that such support would be useful although this proportion rises to 1:3 among micro- businesses working on IUK awards
An Innovate UK spokesperson said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic is not just a crisis for health but also one that affects our economy and society profoundly. Recognising the impact that coronavirus has had on businesses that Innovate UK responded rapidly to roll out additional support. We are accelerating up to £200 million of grant and loan payments for its 2,500 existing Innovate UK customers on an opt-in basis. An extra £550 million will also be made available to increase support for existing customers and £175,000 of support will be offered to around 1,200 firms not currently in receipt of Innovate UK funding. Businesses have demonstrated resilience and innovation and we know that may still face tough circumstances. We will do everything we can to develop our support and encourage businesses to get in touch with us so we see what further we can achieve together.”
The analysis will be repeated in a second wave of the survey that will be conducted in late September, with a third wave of the survey to be conducted early in the New Year to help understand the full impact of COVID-19 on innovate UK funded businesses.