EY has today announced the acquisition of Breakthrough Funding Ltd, the Kent-based Research & Development (R&D) independent tax consultancy which specialises in supporting companies accessing R&D tax relief through the Small to Medium Size (SME) scheme.

This bold deal, which underlines EY’s continued commitment to the SME market, will see the Breakthrough Funding team become an extension of EY’s Innovation Incentive R&D tax team, under the new name – EY Incentives – and its 20 employees will continue to operate from its head office in Ashford.

Breakthrough Funding’s client base are mostly privately-owned SMEs

SMEs lifeblood of the UK economy

Frank Buffone, EY Partner and Founder and Head of EY’s Innovation Incentive team, commented: “SME’s are the lifeblood of the UK economy and this acquisition will help these businesses access the much-needed R&D tax relief they need to grow and reinvest in innovative products and services. Being able to advise clients from the SME market up to large businesses on R&D reliefs really sets us apart from our competitors.”

Roxane Markarian, EY Partner and Head of London Market for Innovation Incentives, commented: “EY recognises that the private mid-market is the engine room of the UK economy, and the acquisition of Breakthrough Funding – one of the UK’s leading R&D tax boutiques – provides access to this huge SME market and over 1000 existing clients.

“As announced in last month’s Budget, R&D is seen as a huge growth driver for the UK, and EY’s acquisition of Breakthrough will help SMEs take advantage of the opportunities available to them through R&D funding and investment.”

EY’s strong track record in R&D

Started by Frank Buffone over 15 years ago, EY’s Innovation Incentive team now boasts over 100 R&D specialists across the whole of the UK. The team’s current focus is predominantly R&D tax claims under the Large company schemes.

Markarian adds: “EY’s Innovation Incentive team differentiates itself in the market by taking a holistic approach to funding – considering not only R&D tax credits but the broader spectrum of funding programs available, including local and national grant programs, patent box opportunities and more.  This acquisition will allow the team to provide additional funding opportunities to SMEs, and help them access the funding they need to invest and focus more on R&D.”

The brains behind Breakthrough

Breakthrough Funding was established in 2015 by Sue Nelson, who later joined forces with Brady Last as Managing Director, starting out in Sue’s conservatory in her house in Wye armed with just two laptops.

The company has become synonymous with innovation in the workplace and family flexible working practices, winning multiple awards including the Kent Invicta Chamber’s New Business of the Year in 2017 and the prestigious national winner of Tolley’s Best UK Independent Tax Consultancy Firm 2019. Sue has also won Kent Business Woman of the Year and was the Institute of Directors 2019, London and South East Director of the Year for Innovation.

Winner of Tolley’s Best UK Independent Tax Consultancy Firm 2019, Breakthrough Funding has helped small business owners get back over £60million in tax benefits since its inception. It now employs 20 local people and has a £2.5 million turnover.

A cultural fit

Nelson decided to sell the business in order to secure investment for rapid expansion across the UK. Inundated with offers for her business, it was EY’s culture and focus on its people that helped seal the deal.

Nelson commented: “We received substantial offers from a number of highly respected firms, but it was EY’s attitude to our culture and the emphasis on our people which was most important to me. I did not want any of our operational processes or ability to put the customer first in everything we do, to change. It’s in our DNA, it’s what makes us so successful and EY understood these values completely. We are so excited that our team in Ashford has been recognised for their outstanding work by a highly respected multinational and will get the opportunity to expand more rapidly across the UK.”

Brady Last will continue as Managing Director in EY- Incentives and as an Associate Partner at EY. Sue Nelson will become a Senior Advisor to EY.

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