When you think of UK innovators, who comes to mind?

Maybe it’s Wallace, the eccentric inventor from the claymation series, Wallace & Gromit, created by Nick Park of Aardman Animations. Some of Wallace’s ‘cracking contraptions’ are based on real-life inventions, such as the bed that tips up to wake its owner, an idea that was first shown at The Great Exhibition of 1851.

Park admits that Wallace’s inventions are often ‘using a sledgehammer to crack a nut’ and most of the comedy comes from things going wrong! If you have time, you might enjoy this compilation:

On the other hand, maybe you think of Sir Clive Sinclair, who produced the first slimline pocket calculator, the first mass-market home computer, and – of course – the Sinclair C5 battery electric vehicle. His latest invention is a folding bicycle for commuters.

Or perhaps Sir James Dyson comes to mind, he who created the bagless vacuum cleaner, airblade hand-dryer and bladeless fan.

Whoever you think of, you can bet that not every one of their inventions has been a commercial success!

So what’s the connection between innovation and business growth?

How innovation impacts business growth

In PwC’s ‘Breakthrough Innovation and Growth’ survey of 1,757 C-suite executives (including 201 from the UK), researchers found a direct link between companies that focus on innovation and faster growth.

  • 93% of respondents say ‘organic growth through innovation’ will drive the greater proportion of their revenue growth
  • The UK’s most innovative companies grew on average 50% faster than the least innovative over the last three years
  • 32% of UK companies see innovation as ‘very important’ to their success (compared with a global average of 43%)
The report also stated that top innovators treat innovation just like any other business or management process.

Innovation is a driver for rapid and profitable revenue growth and is recognised by the executives we interviewed as being integral to sustaining the long-term future of their business. For 43%, innovation is a ‘competitive necessity’ for their organisation, increasing to 51% in five years.

As it’s the case that innovation is a commercial necessity, happily, the Government offers some help!

Government support of innovation

Innovate UK works with people, companies and partner organisations to find and drive the science and technology innovations that will grow the UK economy. Since 2007, they have committed over £1.8 billion to innovation, matched by a similar amount in partner and business funding, and helped more than 7,600 organisations with projects estimated to add more than £11.5 billion to the UK economy and create 55,000 extra new jobs.

So how is UK innovation doing today, on the global stage? Not too badly, by the look of the Forbes list!

Flying the flag for UK innovation

Each year, Forbes ranks companies by their ‘innovation premium’ – the difference between their market capitalisation and the net value of cashflows. The difference between them is the bonus given by equity investors on the ‘educated hunch’ that the company will continue to come up with profitable new growth.

Seven UK businesses appear in the Forbes list of the world’s most innovative companies 2016:

  • ARM Holdings #12 Multi-national semiconductor and software design
  • Reckitt Benckiser Group #51 Multi-national consumer goods
  • Smith & Nephew #70 Wound management and surgical devices
  • SAB Miller #79 Multi-national brewing and beverages (now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev)
  • Capita #86 International professional services and business process outsourcing
  • Liberty Global #88 International TV and broadband
  • ITV #97 Commercial TV network

And what are the predictions for the future? Real Business produces a regular report, where they handpick their shining stars for coming years!

Future 50

Real Business has recently published their 2017 list of the 50 most disruptive companies in the UK. They say:

From mobile to marketing, and from retail to recruitment, Britain is full of industries that are dominated by industry heavyweights taking positions for granted and not innovating. Each year, our Future 50 ranking gives the young players a chance to shine.

To some extent, they may be looking into a crystal ball, but if past performance is any guide, Real Business predictions can be taken seriously! UK startups they have previously highlighted that have gone on to become household names include:

  • Songkick: Allows people to organise and track their favorite bands, get concert alerts, and buy tickets
  • Made.com: Designs and sells homewares and furniture online, and across experiential showrooms in Europe
  • Secret Escapes: Exclusive travel club offering huge discounts on hand-picked luxury hotels and holidays
  • Funding Circle: Peer-to-peer small business lending, connecting investors with businesses looking for capital
  • Crunch: Online accounting and accountants for freelancers, contractors & small businesses
  • GoustoAward-winning food boxes containing fresh ingredients delivered weekly
  • Revolut: Removes currency exchange fees so people can send, exchange and spend money globally at no charge

Looking forward

One businessperson who represents innovation on a global scale is Jack Ma. He is the founder and chairman of Alibaba – the Chinese ecommerce company that’s become the world’s largest retailer. Speaking last year at the Asia Cooperation Dialogue in Bangkok, Mr Ma claimed that: “Data will be the new resource.”

That’s the approach we take here at Akoni.

We use digital technology to increase returns for the average SME via a simple, user-friendly solution. We take public data from various sources that’s currently in a disparate form and format, and bring it together to make sense and add value to the company. This includes public financial data from Companies House, and banking product deposit data from both well-known high street banks and less known challenger banks.

By only including data from UK-regulated banks on our marketplace, it ensures SMEs always have government protection as guaranteed by the FSCS.

Harnessing data is how our personalised online Cash Management platform will improve financial outcomes for businesses. In future, we shall enhance cash management further, with automated prompting using artificial intelligence and machine-learning.

We’re proud to be part of such a long-standing history of British innovation.

Looking back

The UK has been leading global innovation since the industrial revolution. Just for the record, let’s end with a few renowned British innovations:

  • 1822 Charles Babbage’s ‘difference engine’
  • 1837 First computer = Babbage’s ‘analytical engine’
  • 1943 Colossus, the first electronic, digital, programmable computer
  • 1966 Cash machine and PIN system patented
  • 1989 World Wide Web first proposed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, with HTML language and HTTP protocol the year after

Akoni helps businesses make the most of their cash. Register for free at AkoniHub.com

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