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Cost of innovation hindering health sector SMEs in pursuit of COVID recovery

Cost of innovation hindering health sector SMEs in pursuit of COVID recovery


  • 86% of UK SMEs in the health sector think innovation is important for the recovery from Covid-19, yet half said it was too expensive
  • 47% of those in health-related sectors said cost was the biggest barrier to innovation
  • A further 46% said the biggest barrier was lack of opportunity, despite those in healthcare, medtech and pharmaceutical industries saying Covid-19 presented this opportunity


New research from GovGrant, the R&D and IP specialists, today reveals that 86% of UK SMEs in health-related sectors think innovation is important for their recovery from Covid-19. Despite this, almost half (47%) - healthcare, medtech and pharma - say cost is the main barrier for them when it comes to pursuing innovative activity.


The news is particularly concerning in light of the role played by a German SME – BioNTech – in the development of a potential COVID vaccine, alongside pharmaceutical heavyweights, Pfizer.


Encouragingly, the research demonstrates that 76% of healthcare, 78% of medtech and 82% of pharmaceutical SMEs are aware that the government offers the R&D tax credit and Patent Box schemes to incentivise R&D and  when used effectively, can alleviate the cost of innovation for SMEs. However, with so many still concerned about the cost, there is clearly a disconnect between the support on offer and if it is enough. 


When asked, a further 46% of SMEs in health sectors said the biggest barrier was lack of opportunity to innovate. With the launch of the R&D roadmap, the government publicly recognised the importance of innovation in recovery from Covid-19 and that the pandemic has presented an opportunity for R&D. Indeed, over three quarters (76%) of healthcare SMEs agreed that COVID-19 presented an opportunity for innovation, as well as 63% and 71% in medtech and pharmaceuticals respectively.


Luke Hamm, CEO of GovGrant comments:

“The UK government has publicly recognised the role of innovation in the R&D roadmap, but it needs to do more to enable and incentivise UK businesses to innovate and build back better.


“For the health sector in particular,  innovation is at the forefront of the response to Covid-19 that will help drive recovery from the pandemic and we can’t afford for cost to be such a big part of the reason for why it’s not happening.”

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Last Updated: 19-Nov-2020