Tax relief specialist Jumpstart charts new growth trajectory

Scott Henderson, managing director of Jumpstart. Picture: Lisa FergusonScott Henderson, managing director of Jumpstart. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Scott Henderson, managing director of Jumpstart. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

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The name may give little away but Edinburgh-headquartered Jumpstart has grown to become one of the leading players in its field.

Established just under a decade ago, the research and development (R&D) tax expert claims to have recovered £100 million in reliefs for UK businesses, submitting thousands of claims in the process, ­predominantly in the software, IT and manufacturing sectors. Around half that total relates to clients north of the Border but the firm has been actively pushing out beyond its Scottish roots.

It recently outlined plans for fresh investment in the south-east of England, a year on from establishing an office in Slough. According to official data, the south east region has the highest uptake of R&D tax relief in the UK outside of ­London – accounting for almost a fifth of all money claimed UK-wide last year.

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Earlier this year, Jumpstart opened an operation in the manufacturing heartland that is the West Midlands, promising to help engineering firms and factories unlock millions of pounds in tax credits. It has struck a partnership deal with the manufacturers’ organisation, the EEF, which promises to benefit “all sizes of business”, from blue-chips with complex R&D programmes, through to SMEs simply requiring support with the claim process.

Jumpstart managing director Scott Henderson, who took the helm earlier this year, is looking to keep the company open for business to everyone, while at the same time offering a “high-intensity” service for strategically identified sectors.

“The company has had a very unique proposition,” he says. “However, over recent years, competition has become very fierce, with a lot of new players simply copying what we do and how we do it. This includes the kind of people we hire, the approach we take and even the content on our website.”

He adds: “We are ­really strong in two broad areas – software and IT – anything that is in that space, and ­manufacturing and engineering. We know that we are good at this sort of stuff, we understand it, we have lots of ­clients. Most of the R&D being claimed for is in those sectors, so it makes sense for us to do more of that.”

The firm was founded to guide businesses through HMRC’s rather ­complex R&D tax relief claim process. It sees itself as something of a ­market “disrupter” and currently has 46 staff, including 14 technical ­analysts, more than half of whom have PhDs in their ­specialist fields.

Recently appointed sales director Chris Anderson, ­formerly of UK renewable energy and waste management specialist Viridor, is coming on board to oversee the ­company’s expanding sales team.

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The enlarged geographic footprint and growing headcount should help swell ­revenues, which amounted to about £4m in the last financial year.

Henderson is predicting a similar figure for the current period, but that is likely to rise to between £6m and £10m over the next three to five years as growth plans gain traction.

“As we bring on board more and more clients we will require extra support,” he says, “more technical people to maintain the service standards that we already have.

“We have had no problems attracting staff, both on the sales side and with the technical analysts.”

Henderson, who has held senior roles in marketing, sales, operations and finance with Aegon, RBS and Scottish Widows, insists that the ­Capital will remain the heart of the operation, with ­Scotland accounting for about a third of the business volumes transacted.

“There is no change to that,” he says. “You have access to some highly qualified people in the Central Belt.”

Henderson took over as MD from Brian Williamson, who joined Jumpstart shortly after it was founded in 2008, and remains a director of the ­company. The new boss boasts a BSc in anatomy and biochemistry from Dundee University, an MBA from ­Edinburgh University and a post-graduate diploma in marketing from Edinburgh Napier University.

Before the world of business beckoned he did a stint in the Army, but says he has now “exorcised that schoolboy demon”.

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“I was driving around in mini tank things in Germany and did a lot of skiing and shooting and had a great experience,” he recounts. “That made me more of a people leader I think – gave me a more personable approach to leadership.

“At least I know how to iron a shirt and shine a pair of shoes.”


Job: Managing director, Jumpstart UK

Born: Edinburgh

Education: BSc, DipM, MBA

First job: Army officer

What car do you drive? Land Rover Discovery

Favourite mode of transport: Bicycle

Music: Eclectic – from AC/DC through to jazz

Reading material: Currently reading Malcolm Gladwell – Blink

Can’t live without: iPhone

What makes you angry? Rudeness

Favourite place: Verbier, Switzerland

Best thing about your job: The people who I work with

Best piece of advice you can give in business: Relentlessly focus on what you’re good at

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