What next for the Innovation Nation with the quiet demise of Growth Accelerator

I originally released this post on Friday on the Business Zone website a sister service to Accounting Web that I regularly post in. I have updated it as more news has come out over the weekend.

I have only recently embarked on the onboarding process for Growth Accelerator, I have met my Growth Manager, she has devised my Growth Plan and sent me some coaches CV’s to help me find the best fit.

I was listening intently to the Autumn Statement on Wednesday as I had heard rumours of the replacement of Innovation Grants, I assumed through Innovate, with Innovation Loans. The French Governement have recently made the same adjustment to their Innovation funding.

Such a change could have an impact on a number of SMEs who I have supported with R&D Tax Relief Advice who had received a grant from Innovate UK, if the grants were to be replaced with loans it might be possible that the nature of the loans would mean that such business support might not be EU State Aid and therefore might allow them to claim the more lucrative SME Scheme R&D Tax Relief, rather than the Large Company Scheme or RDEC.

Imagine my surprise then when on Friday afternoon, I received a somewhat frantic call from my Growth Manager, telling me that the Growth Accelerator service was to be scrapped and only those people already nearing the completion of the enrolment process, who had paid by midnight on Monday evening (30 November) would be allowed to begin with the subsidised coaching.

Given the Government’s desire for the UK to remain “The Innovation Nation”, such discounted coaching sessions are often invaluable to Small Businesses as they begin their journeys to expansion.

As Growth Accelerator and the Manufacturing Advisory Service had only recently been brought under the umbrella of the Business Growth Service, I assumed that they were going to continue. It has since come out that the entire Business Growth Service will be scrapped which means I think that the Business is Great campaign and Exporting is Great Campaign are also for the chop.

What now for the HMRC agenda for making R&D Tax Relief more visible to SMEs, whilst Growth Accelerator wasn’t and isn’t the vehicle to do this, it was HMRC being embedded with these staff at things like the Business Show (3&4 December at Olympia) where they would be expecting to push out this message.

I have regularly signposted my R&D Tax Relief clients to Growth Accelerator and MAS in an effort to allow them to gain access to coaching that might remove some of their barriers to growth.

Let me know if you have heard any different news on this.

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