CHARTERED Accountant Wylie & Bisset has welcomed Crown Estate Scotland’s launch of a capital investment fund and advised SMEs to diversify and innovate their way to prosperity.
Launched to help promote the sustainable development of Scotland’s natural resources, the £3m Innovation with Natural Resources (INR) Fund, which will support innovation in a range of sectors, such as agriculture, green energy, aquaculture and waste reduction, is designed to support projects which result in better use of natural resources by existing or new businesses on the Scottish Crown Estate.
Successful applicants could receive investment to fund the construction of new, energy efficient buildings, or the improvement of existing infrastructure. Other qualifying projects might include efforts to improve biodiversity or reduce the carbon footprint of a business.
Wylie & Bisset partner Andrew Cowling said that the fund will encourage innovation in these industries, which will encourage others to follow suit.
“While the focus of many SMEs remains on recovery from the financial impact of the pandemic, we would urge them to dedicate time, resources and expertise to sustainability issues,” he said.
“The INR fund will encourage innovation and diversification within the green energy, waste reduction, sustainability and regeneration sectors. Business owners need to constantly consider opportunities for innovation and diversification in order to remain effective through reviewing their processes and inputs to yield the optimum product for the best cost.
“There are commercial advantages to be had from SMEs aligning themselves with the green agenda as more and more consumers demand that the good and services they use are seen to be sustainable,” he said.
Noting that much of business management is labour intensive, which raises the familiar issue about spending too much time working ‘in’ the business rather than working ‘on’ the business, Mr Cowling emphasises that a business owner taking time to think strategically about the business is invariably time well spent.
“We would encourage business owners to consider diversification and innovation as part of their longer-term strategic plan and would recommend that they ensure they have up-to-date financial information at hand before seeking professional advice on the various R&D, tax and capital investment grant opportunities available,” he added.
The size of the capital investments under the INR Fund will be between £150,000 and £500,000 and applications are invited from projects at any stage of development. The fund will be open to applications until 3 June.