SMEs could benefit from same style of attention that took video game sector up a level

Companies such as Mind Candy are already regarded as world leaders, and this strategic investment in a high-potential sector is paying dividends through the industry’s contribution to the UK economy.

Now we’re enjoying the benefits of this model and the whole food chain of businesses it supports, it could inspire ways of spurring others on. Some 95 per cent of all UK video games developers are SMEs, but the previous chancellor’s decision to remove the grants offered by Innovation UK – the government’s technological innovation hub – and replace them with loans hasn’t helped conditions for those startups that do not benefit from tax reliefs.

For example, the tech sector is a great example of an area that could benefit from this policy blueprint. Some of the highest potential companies tend to take a long time to monetise, meaning that initial investment is crucial to their success. 

With the UK technology community growing rapidly, amounting to 270,000 firms and rising according to the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, these enterprises are full of economic potential that could be unlocked with smart, strategic moves.

Not every small technology businesses will be working on the next RuneScape, but many are pioneering new developments in equally exciting new areas: from robotics and space exploration to virtual reality, not to mention the thousands of less headline-grabbing but equally important niches. All could benefit from the same style of attention that has taken the video game industry up a level. The investment in video games has had a hugely positive effect on the UK – from eye-catching international headlines to attracting top talent, while providing a model to follow.

Post-Brexit, gaming companies will be keen to secure access to funding and overseas talent, and ensure investment in homegrown skills is protected. With other industries, such as tech, also keen to secure long-term growth, the relief video gaming businesses receive could be replicated across other sectors. 

By making smart investments in our tech industry’s future and supporting the new players that could become major employers of the future, the UK can stay ahead in the global race for innovation.

Bivek Sharma is head of KPMG Small Business Accounting.

Image: Shutterstock

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