RIFT's dedicated Research and Development Tax Credits division gives us the opportunity to work with some of the most innovative businesses in the UK. We always find it incredibly inspiring to meet and share ideas with the biggest thinkers in small and medium-sized business, so it's only natural that innovation is high on our list of qualities we're looking for in this year's KEiBAs.
The importance of innovation to SMEs would be tough to overstate. All over the UK, firms are solving key problems and asking vital questions. New materials, new products and new processes are being developed all the time, and so many of them have an impact that extends far beyond the immediate projects that gave rise to them.
The one frustrating thing about all this is that so much of this critical innovation is going unnoticed and unrewarded. That doesn't just go for the wider business world, either. In many sectors, innovation is a near-constant necessity - so much so that the people out there on the frontiers don't even realise how far they're pushing back the boundaries for everyone. Innovative research and development has become so much a part of the landscape of day-to-day business that it's all too easy to lose sight of its significance.
That's really what's at the heart of RIFT's R&D division's work. Understanding which areas of your work have serious, wider implications can be like sifting gold dust out of a fast-moving river. So many companies don't realise how much their projects could contribute out in the real world, so never seek or receive the recognition they deserve.
RIFT has always said that innovation is its own reward, and that's still true. What it isn't, however, is its only reward. Research and Development Tax Credits are a concrete means of recognising, encouraging and deriving real-world benefits from innovative thinking.
In throwing a spotlight on the brightest ideas in business, this year's Kent Excellence in Business Awards are set to be another important piece of that puzzle.