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28 October 2013

Innovation – the key to growing business value

Brian McCann is Chair of the sponsor group of the Merseyside Innovation Awards (MIA), a Director of Liverpool Chamber of Commerce and also leads MC Vanguard, the Corporate Finance arm of Mitchell Charlesworth. Below he describes how innovation is at the centre of all three roles...

Brian McCann

Why is it that some business owners strive for 30, 40 or 50 years to build their business, but struggle to make a decent living and then can't find anyone willing to buy the business when they want to retire -  whilst others go from start-up to well paid exit in just a few years?

In the majority of cases it is innovation that distinguishes the fast growth business apart from the rest.  Global examples of innovation-based businesses include, Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Facebook.  Twenty years ago, neither these companies, nor the innovations on which they are based existed. 

The purpose of the MIA is to recognise, promote and reward innovation-based businesses from the Merseyside region.  The widely drawn sponsor group, which includes The North West Fund, spends the first four months of each year looking for fresh examples of businesses that have developed a new product, a new service or even a new way of doing business.

During May and June, the sponsor group work with a short-list of entrants, in order to select three finalists.  These three businesses then present in front of a panel of Judges and an invited audience in July, with the winner taking away a cash prize of £10,000, as well as a range of consulting support and some major PR.

Over the years, MIA winners and finalists have included Magnom Corporation developer of a revolutionary form of oil filter, 2D Heat who design unique heating products and in 2013, NanoFlex, for the development of their commercial nanoscale electrodes for use in research
and analysis.

Liverpool Chamber of Commerce is one of twelve sponsors of the Innovation Awards and promotes the awards widely to Chamber members - this is directly in keeping with the Chamber's role as a membership organisation, which aims to support the growth of Merseyside businesses and the economic development of the region generally.

At MC Vanguard Corporate Finance, we work with the owners of private businesses, to help them grow and ultimately realise the value of their company. We have many examples where innovation was essential to achieving a step-change in the value of the client business. This innovation is not always about developing new products or services, it is just
as likely to be about changing the way in which part of the business works, finding a new way of promoting a key product or focusing more of the company's resource on the services which deliver the strongest profit contribution.

Often, the greatest innovation, as we work on preparing a business for sale is to develop the shape of the business so that it looks like the kind of business which potential buyers are likely to be looking for. We are really looking for a "fit" with the strategic plans of premium buyers with interest in our clients sector.

As we head towards the launch of the Merseyside Innovation Awards for 2014 we can see a range of innovation themes which we expect will feature in many of the applications received in the coming year. These themes include:

  • The continuing challenges of developing greener ways of generating energy and more efficient energy use;
  • The development of 3D printing and the wide range of potential applications;
  • The scope for development of an ever-wider range of "smart" objects which can be automated and transmit data, and
  • Merseyside's continued strong position in the bio-technology field.

As ever, the challenge will be supporting our innovators to take the bright ideas they have
developed and commercialise them to deliver growth, jobs and business value. It should be another interesting year!


The Merseyside Innovation Awards (MIA) recognise the achievements of entrepreneurs whose inventions, designs or projects show cutting edge innovation. The aim is to help them with the process of turning great ideas into great businesses, and to contribute towards the economic development of Merseyside. 

The launch for MIA 2014 will take place in January 2014, keep a look out on the website  for more details about how to apply or get involved.


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