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The Emergence of the Low Touch Economy

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Nico Fell

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The Emergence of the Low Touch Economy

Low touch economy

Now, more than ever, helping the UK’s greatest innovators is key!

So many new terms have entered the public lexicon in 2020 but one that is increasingly gathering pace among the world’s global brands is the ‘low touch economy.’

International think tank, The Board of Innovation, pioneered the concept that refers to the way businesses across the globe have been forced to operate in order to succeed as a result of Covid-19.

Forced isolation and social distancing restrictions, put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, are expected to have a lasting effect on the world. As a society, we have experienced a major overhaul in the way we live and work and we have demonstrated how we can be when needs must.

The Board of Innovation is seeing that “many isolation-induced behaviours becoming ingrained habits that usher in a whole new set of societal norms. During this period of influx, some businesses will thrive in this change and reach accelerated success, while others will struggle to find their footing in all of the chaos.”

Social distancing, hygiene restrictions, travel limitations and the curtailment of large events and gatherings have caused fundamental changes in behaviour.

We’ve seen the redesign of factory floors and offices to keep workers safe. Technology, robots even, replacing high-risk human interactions in service businesses. And the most innovative ideas to make dining out both safe and enjoyable at the same time

These are really just the beginning of the innovation required to take us all forward into the new normal. It is evident that the crisis has unlocked a lot of creativity in business and manufacturing in particular. Many engineers and designers worked through lockdown to develop new concepts for the low touch economy and this innovation continues.

If your company is one that could play a role in the low touch economy, it might help to know research and development funding is available.

Manufacturing companies across the UK are operating under very different conditions. There is an understanding at government level that supported is needed so these businesses can respond to the demands of the new normal or the low touch economy.

For Northern Ireland, Westminster pledged a target of achieving a research and development (R&D) spend of £1.2billion by 2025.

Certainly, investment in R&D is seen as an important way of building for the future. Innovations in new equipment, products and processes, along with investment in people and skills, is absolutely critical to the low touch economy. But if can only be achieved if our great manufacturing companies get as much support as possible to not only survive but to thrive in this new international economy. Now, more than ever, helping the UK’s greatest innovators is key!

R&D Tax Credits is a government initiative developed to encourage innovation and can provide a valuable source of financial benefit for manufacturers pivoting their products to the needs of the low touch economy.

A total of £75 million was paid out to businesses in Northern Ireland in R&D Tax Credits during 2017-18. But many are still missing out on potentially tens of thousands of pounds.

There is support available for companies of all sizes across a range of sectors; but many businesses are not claiming their full legitimate entitlement and could be losing out on tens of thousands of pounds.

At Momentum, our growing team works closely with a broad range of companies across Northern Ireland and the UK to help them get their slice of the millions that the government has made available.

With even more promised in the most recent R&D Roadmap statement by Chancellor Rishi Sunak has vowed to increase public investment in R&D to £22bn by 2024. Ensuring our manufacturers are given the opportunity to really deliver against this target will be key to ensuring the UK can thrive in the post-Covid-19 world.

The government also created a taskforce this month to advise on the UK’s future research and development (R&D) projects. The National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), a not-for-profit organisation representing business and higher education leaders, has been asked to launch the taskforce by UK Research and Innovation, the national funding agency investing in science and research in the UK. The taskforce will provide advice to the government on how best to invest in science and technology and there are significant opportunities for companies.

Many predict the impact of today’s low touch economy will be permanent. If you’re manufacturing, opportunities are moving at breakneck speed, R&D investment can help you not only innovate but move quickly to take advantage of the opportunities today and in turn protect your business for the future.

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