Brexit Discussion: Harlyn Research and Innovate UK

In the first of two special networking events to consider the post-Brexit landscape, Chiltern Chamber was joined by two excellent outside speakers:

  • Simon Goodfellow, Owner and CIO of Harlyn Research LLP
  • Dr Nick Appleyard, Deputy Director, Government Partnerships, Innovate UK

Simon gave us a brief insight into his quite unique methodology, which eschews forecasting, the staple of nearly all market analysts, in favour of a probability-based analysis of the present, which lets the markets tell their own tale. This has worked over the years for Harlyn Research, across many markets.

Harlyn research presentation to Chiltern Chamber of CommerceThe main takeaways from Simon’s presentation were:

  • A starkly cautious outlook for the Eurozone banks. Not just the Italian banks, but even including the powerhouse Deutsche Bank. US Banks not looking too clever, either!
  • Much brighter prospects within Emerging Markets, which present “A World of Opportunity” – an interesting contrast at a time when Britain is seeking to open new trade avenues.
  • Indicators for UK stock markets in middling territory; “We can talk ourselves into a crisis… or out of it!” As has been evident, the Brexit doomsayers have not been proved right – yet.
  • US Technology – possibly entering a less euphoric phase, awaiting the next ‘big thing’ (the ‘Internet of Things’?)

Nick Appleyard of Innovate UK presented to us only the day after Theresa May had promised “a proper industrial strategy” when launching her Conservative Party leadership bid. Another of Theresa May’s themes was the need to boost productivity – ironically one can argue that the UK’s recent growth has been achieved through migration, rather than through productivity.

Nick Appleyard Innovate UK presents to Chiltern Chamber of CommerceOverall, one had the impression that one of the challenges within Innovate UK is to understand and react to periodic changes in governments and central policy. But its central purpose is consistent: to promote growth and productivity through innovation. Often it facilitates businesses and ideas that are not conventionally bankable, sometimes by helping them make the right connections, sometimes via funding.

We were interested to learn of the extent to which Innovate UK works with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), and Nick Appleyard showed some fascinating maps, highlighting the diversity of funding by sectors, and the real regional strengths in various sectors. Similarly we learnt of Innovate UK’s involvement with ‘Catapult Centres’, a network of centres of excellence spread around the regions, to help drive the UK’s capability for innovation in specific areas.

An interesting contrast was provided by two maps, displaying destinations of EU funding, against the areas in which Innovate UK has been committing funding. Whilst Innovate UK has been targetting higher-growth areas and regional strengths, EU funding has been designed to support areas of lower prosperity. Implications for the agricultural sector are obvious.

Innovate UK often runs competitions and programmes that will be relevant to businesses in our area. The best way to stay up to date would be to join the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), which is free, and helps promote the various funding opportunities.

Not surprisingly, the underlying message was that little is changing in the immediate future, and that business owners should focus on the present – a theme also of Simon Goodfellow’s presentation.