9TH APRIL, 2020

Key Innovations That Have Recently Come About In Ireland's Supply Chain

If there’s one thing the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has taught us it’s to appreciate our freedom - one of which being the ability to shop. For decades now we’ve had the luxury of popping to the supermarket any time we fancy it, or head to the high street in search of the latest fashions. But with the country now on lockdown making shopping for essentials a rather socially distanced ordeal, it’s made many of us stop and think.

With supermarkets revealing March 2020 as having been their busiest month on record, supply chains up and down the country - and indeed the world - have been put under incredible pressure. However, it’s in times of adversity that we see the steepest rise in innovation, and undoubtedly this period of COVID-19 uncertainty will be no different. Here we look at the most recent supply chain innovations across Ireland and beyond.

Enhancing the way risk is predicted and managed

COVID-19 pretty much came out of nowhere. No-one could have predicted it, and things are changing fast. Risk mitigation has always been a key factor in supply chain management, but even before COVID-19 came about, the approach to it was changing. Stakeholder expectations and legal requirements around due diligence and identifying risk are increasing, necessitating companies to utilise more sophisticated tools in order to meet this. They will also need to collate data from more sources than ever, and scan for weaknesses in the supply chain in far more depth than before. In recent years, a huge amount of growth has occurred in the number of technologies and tools available to bring about accurate supply chain risk predictions. These include sustainability dimensions, such as ethical, environmental and human rights risk monitoring. Companies are now working to understand and test how these technologies work, and how they can be integrated into their existing supply chain infrastructure.

On-demand warehousing

On-demand warehousing is another supply chain innovation that allows companies to temporarily gain large additional amounts of warehouse space without the need for an expensive, permanent warehouse facility. Essentially, companies can ‘borrow’ warehouse space from other companies that have it available to offer. It’s a chance for companies with unused space to generate some extra income, whilst companies that urgently need extra space on a short term basis can meet their increased demand. It’s a win-win.

Improved collaboration with suppliers

A strong, effective relationship between supplier and procurer is central to supply chain health and business success. As time goes on, procurement teams will look more and more to suppliers for innovation in products and processes to enhance mutual benefit. For instance, some companies are increasingly take advantage of better demand planning and inventory management in collaboration with suppliers. Others will improve their supplier development platforms so that they can better achieve public-facing sustainability goals, including environmentally friendly working practices.

Blockchain

In simple terms, a blockchain is a massive database of transactions that can work to help make supply chains efficient, reliable and transparent. Whilst the use of blockchain technology in relation to supply chains is still in its infancy, it can be applied to just about every industry in existence. For example, blockchain is ideal for tracking parts, such as in the aviation and motor industries, and identifying counterfeits. Likewise, in pharmaceuticals to weed out fake medication. Lab simulations have already shown that blockchain can process over seven billion unique serial numbers and 1,500 transactions per second - the possibilities are endless.

Optimising working capital and making savings

Getting goods from A to B to C quickly, safely and cheaply is critically important in any supply chain. In recent years, and certainly in those to come, innovation continues to push these values to the fore. Improvements in the ability to obtain real-time data have brought about more efficient, dynamic decision-making, in turn giving much needed cost savings and improved cash flow. For instance, real-time demand data can be used in conjunction with historic trends to predict demand and therefore possible stock outages before they occur. Improved technology can also facilitate faster transactions, and allow for insights into invoice approval status to be received in real-time.

How the Revenue’s R&D Tax Credits scheme is supporting Ireland’s innovative companies

In this article we’ve looked at just a few examples of supply chain innovation. But innovative research and development (R&D) work involved in making scientific or technological advancement can be expensive. Indeed, for many Irish companies that have already invested in R&D, the expense alone can be somewhat off-putting when it comes to doing more. That’s why the Irish Revenue offers R&D Tax Credits.

What are R&D Tax Credits?

If a company spends money on making a specific technological or scientific advancement then it can use the R&D Tax Credits scheme to receive 25% of qualifying expenditure back from the Revenue. This is done either via a reduction in its Corporation Tax bill or (in the case of non-profitmaking companies) as a cash credit.

The credit is open to any Irish company that has carried out eligible R&D either in the Republic of Ireland or elsewhere in the EEA. This is typically by carrying out the development of a new product, process or service, or by appreciably improving an existing one. Essentially there must have been an element of risk and uncertainty involved, requiring basic, applied or experimental research.

How can I apply?

A company should use the Revenue Online Service (ROS) to claim the credit on their Corporation Tax return and ensure that it meets all the requirements before applying. This is where it gets more difficult. In order to avoid fraudulent activity, the Revenue is very precise about what costs and projects qualify, and specifically how an application can be made. A process of calculation and narrative copy needs to be undertaken, and it’s incredibly easy to make a mistake – which is why it’s strongly recommended you use the Tax Cloud portal.

Developed by our skilled, highly experienced team of R&D consultants, specialists and accountants at Myriad Associates, the Tax Cloud portal can help Irish businesses and accountants make a clear, maximised, successful application for R&D Tax Credits.

If you would like to ask a question or begin a new claim, speak to us today on +353 1 556 2001 or use our contact page. We’ll help you get the money your business deserves.

Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA
Author Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA CEO, Tax Cloud
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Myriad Associates helps businesses maximise tax credits and secure R&D grant funds. We specialise in R&D Tax Credits, Enterprise Ireland grants.

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Barrie Dowsett Barrie Dowsett ACMA CGMA Chief Executive Officer
David Farbey David Farbey MA, FISTC, FRSA Technical Consultancy Director
Lisa Waller Lisa Waller CTA, ACCA R&D Tax Manager
Lauren Olson Lauren Olson MA, MISTC Senior Technical Consultant