Innovation on the rise among UK small businesses

More small firms are investing in new computer hardware, research and development and different approaches to marketing

Levels of innovation among the UK’s small and medium businesses have increased significantly in recent years, according to a new report from the government’s department for business, innovation and skills (DBIS).

‘Innovation’ was defined in the report as any introduction of new or significantly improved products, services or processes, new and improved forms of organisation, structure and marketing approaches, investment activities, and/or engagement in innovation activities.

According to this analysis, the report found that 53% of small and medium-sized enterprises were involved in innovation between the years 2012 and 2014, a hike on the previous two years.

Of the 29,000 enterprises surveyed for the report, the majority said they had innovated by using new computer software (27%) and computer hardware (24%), investing in internal research and development (16%), implementing training for innovative activities (15%), and making changes to marketing methods (12%).

Innovation was found to have increased across every region of the country – up to 65% in Yorkshire and the Humber and 58% in the South East – except in the South West where innovation rates decreased to 43%.

Businesses in manufacturing were recorded to be the most innovative, followed by businesses in the distribution and services sector.

Business owners said they were most likely to innovate to improve the quality of their goods and services, while reducing environmental impact (9%) and improving health and safety (12%) were cited as the least likely reasons to innovate.

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