Person Interviewed: Colin Barvaux
Cargo: Financial Consultant at MoneyOak – R&D and Innovation Tax Incentives
What are the main objectives of MoneyOak and what do you offer in comparison to other similar companies?
At MoneyOak we are committed to making tax incentives for innovation accessible to all types of companies. Of course we work with sectors where R&D is well known, but we also work with sectors where R&D can be ‘hidden’. Sectors that are, however, highly innovative. We support them in the identification and the description of eligible activities. Furthermore, we take charge of the entire process.
At each new stage, we make it a top priority to minimise the time spend by our clients. The advantage of using a consulting company is also to save a lot of time. It sounds simple, but it is not always the case…
MoneyOak was created in 2016 in Belgium, and despite its “short life”, it has already expanded internationally, specifically in Spain and France. Why have you chosen Spain to open an office? How the Spanish Government tries to stimulate research and development?
The tax incentives we are working on are a European trend. Spain has set up a very interesting scheme for companies that own the intellectual property (IP) of their software or patents.
This measure, called “Patent-Box” or “IP-Box” since 2018, enables companies to significantly reduce its corporate income tax. The tax base is reduced with maximum 60% of the net income derived from qualifying IP assets. It is very similar to the Belgian system that exists since 2016 ie “Innovation Income Deduction”. We have demonstrated the success of the teamwork between Spanish tax experience and Belgian R&D software qualification (=essential condition) expertise. This enables MoneyOak to add considerable value to the companies that have decided to apply the IP-Box.
Spain remains a welcoming land for innovative companies. Although the IP-Box (=new Patent-Box) is recent (2018), other measures such as “Bonificaciones por I+D+i” are widely applied in companies. It is important to underline that these different incentives are compatible and that the R&D efforts benefiting from the “Bonificaciones” very often lead to income eligible for the IP-Box.
The MoneyOak team has experts from various fields for whom the main link is its expertise in growth through innovation. Do you think this is a good moment for the companies to bet on innovation in terms of taxation? Do you consider that the field of innovation will be revalued after the covid-19 crisis?
The current European will is to keep qualified profiles in Europe and to avoid brain drain to the United States or Asia. Furthermore, the objective is to keep the intellectual property of companies in Europe. This is a long-term policy that can be relied on.
The question of tax incentives and the covid-19 crisis deserves to be raised. Nevertheless, we are very pleased that both Spain and Belgium have taken the opportunity to increase their contribution to innovative initiatives. Moreover, Spain announced this November 2020, an increase of 50M€ for the budget allocated to the financing of innovative projects by the Agencia Estatal de Investigación (AEI).
It is clear that innovation will continue to be a main concern in the coming years.
In your company you use the method ‘no cure, no pay’, how does this change the relationship with customers?
As our subjects of expertise are sometimes not well known, it is a desire on our part to be transparent. To tell our clients that we assume the risk of working for several months because we are convinced that they deserve the tax savings.
A tax incentive is not just a button to push. It requires real expertise both in scientific terms and knowledge of national rules and practices. By applying the “no cure, no pay” approach, we guarantee our clients that we will do our utmost to ensure that they not only benefit from these incentives, but also optimise the result.
What are the most important challenges that MoneyOak will be facing this year?
Our continuous battle is to convince that these incentives are not only dedicated to companies with a department called R&D. Industries, banks & insurance, Food&Beverage, IT related sectors, … are also highly concerned.
MoneyOak has recently become sponsor member of the Chamber. What are the benefits you can expect to obtain from this membership?
We were looking for a partner to help us communicate the potential to apply the new tax incentives for innovation.
We also wanted to find a partner with whom to develop synergies between Spain and Belgium. As previously discussed, tax incentives for innovation, Research & Development are driven by Europe. There is so much to be gained by developing a strategy that goes beyond the borders of one country or the other.
We also wanted to tell Spanish companies that are in Belgium that it is also possible to benefit from these incentives in Belgium.
The Spanish Chamber of Commerce, with its rich network and great dynamism, is certainly a specialised partner in these matters and one we can count on.