EY snaps up boutique R&D tax specialist

Big Four firm EY has acquired Breakthrough Funding Ltd, a 20-strong research and development (R&D) tax specialist for the SME sector based in Kent

The deal will see Breakthrough Funding join EY’s Innovation Incentive R&D tax team under the name of EY-Breakthrough Incentives, while its employees will remain at its head office in Ashford, Kent.

Breakthrough Funding was established in 2015 by Sue Nelson, since when it has helped small business owners get back more than £60m in tax benefits. It now employees 20 people and has a turnover of £2.5m. Around a third of Breakthrough’s clients are in the food tech sector.

Nelson will become a senior adviser to EY, while the company’s managing director Brady Last will continue in this role at EY-Breakthrough Incentives while also becoming an associate partner at EY.

Frank Buffone, head of EY’s Innovation Incentive team, said: ‘SME’s are the lifeblood of the UK economy. 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 – these incentives are now even more important to help SMEs during these challenging times.’

Roxane Markarian, EY’s head of London Market for Innovation Incentives, commented: ‘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.’

Nelson put the business up for sale to secure investment for expansion across the UK. She said: ‘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.’

EY’s Innovation Incentive team now has more than 100 R&D specialists across the whole of the UK. The team’s current focus is predominantly on R&D tax claims under the large company schemes.

By Philip Smith

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