- PwC attracts two plaudits at the 2015 Australian Business Awards
- Innovation Hubs in Sydney and Brisbane are helping businesses use innovative practices to solve problems and spark real-world change
- Nifty R&D app is revolutionising the ways in which small businesses claim a tax incentive for research and development
Australian businesses might know that embracing innovation can increase their growth prospects but they often face barriers when it comes to putting theory into practice. In the last year, PwC has spearheaded countless tools, strategies and models that empower business leaders to capitalise on the power of digital change.
This commitment was recently recognised at the 2015 Australian Business Awards, a national awards program that highlights the achievements of the country’s business and technology leaders. PwC’s trailblazing Sydney and Brisbane Innovation Hubs won the Innovation category while Nifty R&D, an app that makes it simple for small businesses to claim the Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive, secured the award for Product Innovation.
Creating space for change
PwC’s Innovation Hubs in Sydney and Brisbane enable teams to draw on collaborative processes and out-of-the-box thinking to solve problems ranging across sectors such as transport, food, infrastructure and health. In December last year, the Western Sydney Innovation Hub, a 12-week pilot program that saw teams pioneer solutions for big-ticket issues within an accelerated timeframe, conceived teleworking alternatives for commuters in Western Sydney, connected students at the University of Western Sydney with a network of healthy food providers, created a central data exchange to store geocoded information and delivered an online platform that connected people with disabilities and medical practitioners. Meanwhile, the Queensland Innovation Hub, an initiative conducted in partnership with the Queensland Government, has addressed a series of challenging public sector issues including road safety, indigenous health and better management of parks and forests.
A big step forward
And in October 2014, PwC launched Nifty R&D, a cloud-based application that helps small businesses innovate by accessing the Research & Development Tax Incentive – a useful government tax break that involves a drawn-out claims method that puts a serious drain on resources and time. Nifty R&D eliminates repetitive steps and streamlines procedures, reducing a claims process that often calls for six weeks of calls, meetings and negotiations to just one day.
“A lot of companies do R & D but they don’t call it R&D so they often don’t realise they’re eligible for the tax incentive,” says PwC’s Nifty R&D Product Owner, Mark O’Neill. “There’s a real lack of understanding about it. The statistic we often refer to is that for every one claimant, there’s two to three who could use it but just don’t know about it. The second issue is that the process for claiming the incentive is so time-consuming. Time is at an incredible premium for small businesses and our app reduces this commitment on their side while applying all the rigour associated with PwC.”
The app, which has attracted users from the sectors as diverse as software, biology, food and engineering, also features a price tag that is highly accessible to business owners, a factor – along with a focus on the user experience – is playing a major role in its growth. It also signals PwC’s evolution from a professional services firm to a multifaceted business that’s creating innovative products that create value for businesses and turn outdated procedures on their head.
“It’s very accessible to everyone and has opened PwC up to a new market,” says O’Neill. “The response has been amazing and we’re growing about 10% week to week. We’re receiving great feedback from our customers and there’s been an exceptional adoption rate. I think it has the potential to define the market and from a process point of view, I believe that this is the way that all R&D can be done.”
Find out more about the winners of the 2015 Australian Business Awards here.