The government’s R&D tax incentives could boost marine and maritime SME innovation at a critical time, a marine engineering specialist has said.

Brexit, ongoing trade wars/deals and the coronavirus pandemic present a perfect storm for SMEs to plot their growth and help the UK strengthen its maritime sector, but research and development (R&D) is key to this potential being realised, said Mike Harrison of R&D tax credit consultancy ForrestBrown.

“As the maritime sectors have naturally high levels of R&D, businesses operating within them are usually good candidates for the government’s R&D tax incentives,” he explained. “These are designed to reward UK companies for investing in innovation, and the criteria for businesses to claim is purposefully broad. Whether creating either new or changing existing products, processes or services, R&D tax credits are a valuable source of cash for maritime businesses.”

ForrestBrown said it has helped several niche but highly innovative marine businesses to identify R&D and unlock valuable funds they can reinvest in accelerating innovation, hiring new staff and ultimately growing.

This includes a boat builder integrating cutting-edge tech into heritage vessels; a boatyard creating better valve, pump and propeller repairs, and a manufacturer of compact high-torque winches.

Examples of marine engineering R&D include creating new bathymetry/hydrography products and devices for better seabed surveys; increasing the performance, range and mission capabilities of unmanned vessel (USVs); and developing a new propulsion system or designing hydrodynamics to make a boat faster.

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