Business News Wales sits down with Lisa James, Business Development and Marketing Manager at LimestoneGrey.
Tell us a little about yourself and your professional background.
I have been working in the marketing industry for over 11 years now following a three-year Business and Marketing degree at Cardiff university. My career has been incredibly varied, one of the many benefits of working in the marketing industry. My previous job roles have spanned both B2B and B2C environments covering the manufacturing, legal, retail and now the professional services sector. Each role has been completely different, collectively providing me with a broad array of marketing skills and experience.
I have been fortunate to have achieved my CIM maketing diploma and become a chartered marketer, allowing me to keep up to date with the changes in the marketing landscape.
Tell us about LimestoneGrey.
LimestoneGrey is a firm of Chartered Tax Advisers and we specialise solely in helping companies make successful R&D tax credit claims.
A lot of companies, particularly so in Wales, are unaware that they could potentially reclaim tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds. To qualify, they simply need to demonstrate that they are working on a project that involves a level of risk. This could include developing a new product that requires prototypes or testing or making alterations to an existing piece of machinery that involved trial and error and no guarantee of success. If the company meets the qualifying criteria, they could be looking at a significant cash injection.
Our role at LimestoneGrey is to help identify the qualifying activity within companies. We gather all the required information and put together the claim in the correct format to maximise the probability of acceptance whilst ensuring that the claims are fully optimised.
And we do this really well as we have a 100% success record. What is more, we do this completely risk free.
What are the challenges LimestoneGrey / the industry is currently facing?
The uncertainty on Brexit will be a factor at the moment, with companies choosing to put projects on hold until the future of the UK business landscape is more secure. This is completely understandable. However, there are still companies investing in technology and innovation which is positive to see.
The R&D tax credit scheme is an incredibly inclusive relief. It is available for any company in any sector but sometimes the perception is that it is only relevant for companies who are undertaking ground-breaking research. This is not true. There are companies that we work with that have received R&D tax credits for the ‘day to day’ work the company undertakes. Examples can include:
- Making bespoke amends to an off the shelf CRM system
- Adding additional features or functionality to an existing product
- Developing a new app
- Making alterations to a piece of machinery to make it more efficient
- Developing a bespoke packaging solution
- Addressing changes in legislation affecting your product or process
Another misconception is that only companies operating in the pharmaceutical, manufacturing or technology sectors can qualify. The latest set of HMRC statistics show that companies in many other sectors are claiming, sectors such as agriculture, fintech, engineering, mining, construction, transport, education and food and drink.
Why should businesses look into R&D Tax Credits?
Companies spend a lot of money and invest a significant of time into developing and improving products and services. By doing this they not only help their company compete more aggressively but also contribute to placing Wales and the UK on a global stage when it comes to innovation. Companies should be rewarded for this.
The average SME company claim now stands at £53,000 which is a sizeable amount of money. This money is ‘free’ cash, unlike a loan it does not need to be paid back and you do not need to give up equity in your business to access it.
Unfortunately, there is a time limit on claiming. Companies can claim back up to two accounting periods. Once this time has passed, the claim is lost so it is important to act. LimestoneGrey offer free consultations to determine a company’s eligibility.
What advice would you give to small businesses looking to innovate?
My three top tips for companies would be:
- Have a clear plan and set of objectives
It is important at the start of the project that you have clear objectives so that every employee involved works towards the same goal. Innovative projects tend to work to tight deadlines and budget constraints so if everyone is singing off the same page, it is easier to keep within these boundaries.
- Take advantage of the services and support available
In Wales, there is a fantastic support network for companies.
The business event calendar is full of seminars and networking events designed to provide free expert advice and support. There are also organisations such as CEMET Wales and the Data Innovation Accelerator dedicated at helping Welsh companies with their innovative projects.
- Keep track of costs
During your project, it is advised to keep a track of your spending, your time allocation and key milestones in your project as if you decide to claim R&D tax credits, it will strengthen your claim. Some companies we have worked with have had to go off memory when telling us about their project. By doing this, key bits of information may be missed out which could reduce the size of the claim.