Covid-19 has created new collaboration and innovation opportunities for start-ups
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way the overwhelming majority of start-ups operate and created new opportunities for collaboration and innovation according to research from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.
The research found that nearly three quarters (72%) of start-ups have embraced the opportunities available from new working practices such as remote and flexible working. The pandemic has also created new opportunities for innovation for almost half (47%) of start-ups, while four in 10 (42%) are finding new opportunities for partnerships and collaboration.
The findings reveal that start-ups were quick to adapt to the challenging operating environment created by Covid-19; just 11% of start-ups now operate their business largely the same as before the pandemic. The range of opportunities start-ups were able to capitalise on include 30% benefitting from more digitisation and automation of processes and 15% seizing new recruitment prospects.
The findings are encouraging given the significant challenges start-ups faced as a result of Covid-19. Start-ups cited lost revenue (23%) as the biggest challenge from the pandemic to their business, followed by disruption to R&D (19%) and supply chain disruption (19%).
These challenges are expected to continue into 2022 and emphasise the importance of a supportive funding and innovation ecosystem. Nearly half of start-ups expect pandemic-related disruption to impact their operations and R&D (45%), revenue (44%) and supply chain (42%) in 2022, while around a quarter expect difficulties securing investment (28%) and recruiting new staff (24%).
Jonny Voon, head of the Sustainable Innovation Fund at Innovate UK, says: “Young, high growth companies faced substantial challenges during the pandemic as revenue and investment opportunities were restricted and supply chain and R&D disruption increased. Through our Covid-19 Continuity Grants and Sustainable Innovation Fund we aimed to provide the lifeline that would help exceptional ideas, companies and entrepreneurs not just stay afloat, but capitalise on the opportunities that emerged from the rapidly changing business landscape.
“While the worst appears to be behind us, it’s clear that many start-ups will face ongoing challenges this year. In order to support the companies delivering solutions which can truly transform our economy for the better, it’s important that investors, corporates, government, academic and research institutions and more continue to come together to provide the funding and R&D expertise that helps the UK’s innovation ecosystem to thrive.”