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London, UK –  A shortage of skills and too much red tape tops the table of barriers to innovation for 1 in 4 UK digital businesses*, according to research byCurrencycloud, the leading international payment platform.

As well as access to skills (26%) and regulation and compliance challenges (28%) the research,Fostering innovation: from ideas to action, identified a number of other external and internal obstacles to turning ideas into a market-ready reality, including internal politics (26%) and access to the right technology (26%).

As a result of these challenges, half of businesses (51%) are focusing on innovation that is easiest to execute – meaning that potentially game changing ideas may never see the light of day. When probed further on choosing ideas to progress, 41% of businesses favour incremental improvements over big company-changing ideas, and a third (30%) went with what they thought have the greatest value to the customer.

But while innovation driven internally appears to be missing potential, two thirds (59%) of respondents agreed that collaborating with external parties can lead to the best ideas.

Todd Latham, CMO and VP of Product at Currencycloud, commented: “With UK productivity lagging behind competitors, and in today’s fast-moving market, innovation is no longer a choice but a means of survival. Given the challenges around skills and regulation that may intensify as a result of Brexit, these barriers must be addressed to ensure the success of UK business and the economy now and in the future.”

“For example, companies can upskill their employees, and develop their own technology, or implement complex regulatory processesto futureproof their business. But in reality, this gets complicated as the consumer demand shifts, and regulatory requirements change. Increasingly, we’re finding that our clients want to work with us because we can do that for them, so they can focus on what matters – growing their business.”

While skills to executing innovation are hard to come by,, the research found that the skills to generate ideas comes from more than one source within businesses. The traditional route of the Research and Development department in driving forward innovation is becoming a thing of the past, with only 19% of respondents indicating that they still drive successful innovation. Instead, a third (35%) think that their IT department is the main driver of innovation, closely followed by the board/ management team (32%) and the marketing team (30%).

Todd continued:“The onus to innovate is no longer on one department or individual but is spread across the organisation. While this is good news from an idea generation perspective, businesses are clearly still struggling to turn the best ideas into practice and instead focus on those that are easiest to execute. Collaborating with other businesses with expertise in key strategic areas cannot just help them turn their most lucrative ideas into a reality, but free up time for organisations to focus on client priorities.”

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