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How crisis breeds innovation (just look at the pandemic)

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen companies innovating to survive - and fast. R&D Tax Credits have helped massively towards the costs.

Barrie Dowsett

Chief Executive Officer


5 minute read

It’s not the first pandemic, and won't be the last

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. When the COVID-19 crisis hit in early 2020, organisations across the world were galvanised into action. Suddenly companies were switching their production lines to make parts for ventilators, field hospitals were set up and the race was on for a vaccine.

Scary times that even almost two years later are still fresh in our minds.

But what is it about a crisis that means push comes to shove? And how do we keep the momentum going, so that innovation continues long after the pandemic?

“COVID-19 isn't the first pandemic humanity has faced and it won't be the last. What has happened offers lessons about how to judge and respond to virus warnings in future." - New Scientist

A sudden and very real sense of urgency

No-one could’ve predicted the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the economy. In Ireland and across the globe, businesses suddenly had to rethink their supply chains (remember loo roll and paracetamol?), change their working practices pretty much overnight and reallocate their resources. Everyone was coming together to tackle a common challenge, and to innovate solutions.

Out of the panic and fear came opportunity - to learn, and to experiment.

Established companies needed to pivot their entire organisation, and fast. The most successful organisations going forward will be the ones that continue to reimagine their operations, taking advantage of technology to scale up and broaden their markets. In this challenging COVID era, incremental change is so 2019.

Support for innovation in Ireland - during COVID and afterwards

The Republic of Ireland is a highly innovative place to be, thanks to the likes of Innovation 2020 and Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund.

“We have been getting a much greater level of interest from smaller companies this year,” said Enterprise Ireland in-company R&D supports manager, Joe Madden.

“Applications from Local Enterprise Office [LEO] clients are up from 15 last year to 40 this year. Those are companies with less than 10 employees. That’s out of a total of 121 applications so far this year, which is itself a substantial increase on the 89 received last year,” he added.

The Agile Innovation Fund was launched in 2018 and is designed to support product, process or service-development projects. As much as 50% of the total cost can be claimed, up to €300,000. It helps Irish companies that are developing solutions at speed, or who are starting a new R&D project from scratch - ideal in pandemics. It forms part of a much wider tapestry of R&D grants on offer.

One company that took innovation to the next level during the early stages of the pandemic is Lidan Designs of Strokestown in County Roscommon. Having recognised that lockdowns meant trying to do all your usual activities from home, they started to devise ‘structures’ that people could use as home offices, gyms, playrooms and so on. The modularity of these structures needed improving and products manufactured faster, which they achieved thanks to this extra funding.

Galway-based Aran Biomedical is another example of an Irish company benefitting from the additional financing for innovation during the pandemic. The company designs, develops and manufactures implantable medical devices for multinational medtech clients, with funding paying for the development of a new material to be used in manufacturing stents.

The fact is that Ireland’s most innovative businesses have access to a huge range of R&D grants and supports. At Myriad Associates we can help you identify the funding to suit your business and project - find out how.

Pivoting for resilience

It’s also no secret that some industries have suffered more during the pandemic than others. Now in a vulnerable position, companies have had to diversify, pivot and streamline in order to build resilience and survive.  

Castlecomer-based supplier of sports and leisurewear, Intosport, is one such example. With last year’s lockdowns biting and clubs and schools closing, large orders were being cancelled. Despite signing up for the wage subsidy scheme, it soon became obvious they’d need to do more.

Intosport had to pivot, and fast. Where previously the company had produced GAA kits, it was now churning out reusable water-repellent gowns and hospital scrubs in their thousands. But not only did such innovation keep Intosport afloat, it meant they could not only retain the staff they had but also take on more to fulfil orders.

“It’s a similar process making gowns to GAA kits when it comes down to it. The biggest challenges we faced were around setting up the factory for social distancing,” said Managing Director Jonny Dowling.

“At the height of it all, we had 10 people here and took on another five staff part-time to cope. We were doing thousands of gowns for the local hospital alone,” he added.

How can R&D Tax Credits and Myriad Associates help innovative Irish companies?

R&D Tax Credits represent a generous innovation incentive backed by Revenue. Companies engaging in innovative activities that progress science or technology can claim as much as 30% of their eligible R&D costs back. This can be used to offset current or previous Corporation Tax liabilities, or even received as a credit payable in instalments.

The scheme is open to all Ireland-based companies regardless of size or sector. As long as the outcome of the R&D project was uncertain from the start, then R&D Tax Credits are likely to result.

The problem is, making a claim is notoriously difficult. Picking out exactly which specific costs are relevant - and which aren’t - requires specialist guidance. This is especially true when it comes to maximising your claim so you don’t miss out.

At Myriad Associates, we specialise in all types of innovation funding. From SMEs and start-ups to large multinationals, we can help you get the R&D Tax Credits you deserve.

Why not call us today on +353 1 566 2001, or send us a message. One of our friendly team will be pleased to offer the professional advice you need in kicking off your claim.

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