Viper Subsea: R&D Investing Crucial for West of England
Neil Douglas, managing director of Viper Subsea, the Portishead-based subsea engineering company that provides consultancy and develops products for the oil and gas sector, has stressed the importance of investment in research and development (R&D) from businesses in the West of England region.
The statement follows disappointing results from new analysis of the UK Innovation Survey 2013 conducted by the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) which measures innovation activity within Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) across the UK. A league table of performance across the 45 LEPs shows the West of England region languishing last-but-one with regards to R&D activity, and was placed 33rd out of 45 overall for innovation.
“Viper Subsea is an example of how investment in R&D can be the foundation for sustainable business growth,” explains Neil Douglas. “Our business is all about developing innovative products and services that save our clients large amounts of money, and approximately 30% of all engineering effort is invested in Research and Development activities. We have also recently extended our own R&D capabilities with a six figure investment in a new, dedicated R&D facility that will enable us to further refine our existing products, as well as developing our next generation of products. The investment in this facility was supported by the LEP through a Regional Growth Fund Grant.
“90% of our product sales are in export and we are emerging as one of the world’s leading innovators for asset integrity management services for subsea control and distribution systems. That success is built on an appreciation that our industry, like all industries, is evolving and facing new challenges every day. The only way to stay relevant is to embrace the challenge of innovating your products and services to give the market what it needs not just for today, but for tomorrow. The only way to successfully achieve that challenge is to make a strong investment in R&D. If the West of England is going to improve on its innovation performance, and secure strong business for the future, businesses across the region must increase investment in R&D.”
14,000 firms responded to the UK Innovation Survey 2013. The analysis benchmarked innovation activity including; product or service innovation, new to the market innovation, process innovation, strategic or marketing innovation, R&D, and collaborating as part of innovation activity. The West of England LEP comprises Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire. Neighbouring LEPs fared better, with Gloucester placed 4th, Dorset 6th, Swindon and Wiltshire 9th, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly 13th, and Heart of the South West 21st.