Research Reports

Gibson Index Ltd has undertaken a surprising number of reports and surveys into Innovation and Enterprise in the UK, and beyond. On each occasion we gather the right expertise for our teams from the cream of London's international research community. A few of the reports produced and masterminded by the company are as follows:


Research Reports produced in 2019:

In 2019 we completed a study of the UK’s export ‘explosion’ – the first major work studying the extraordinary increase in UK exports which rose 29% in the two years after the 2016 Brexit vote. Our report – labelled ‘a whole load of nonsense’ by Financial Times editor Lionel ‘Grumpy’ Barber – confirmed the rise in exports were ‘the greatest since records began, even greater than the first phase of the Industrial Revolution in the 1840s’. Nearly all of the export expansion took place in non-EU markets. Countries such as Turkey, Macedonia, Egypt, Morocco and Brazil were prominent. Several key facts arose from our investigation: the number of companies in Wales that were exporting doubled to more than 4,500, an exceptional achievement, and it was followed by a big expansion of SME activity in the East Midlands. It underlines the key finding in the report: ‘The UK economy is very rapidly switching away from EU to non-EU markets – this is an historic, strategic steer for the entire economy, and signals the return of the UK to its former role of trading strongly outside Europe for more than two centuries prior to joining the EU. We predict the percentage of total UK trade going to the EU to fall below 25% within seven years of 2019 from its current figure of around 50%.’ To purchase the report, call: 020 7629 4064 –

Research Reports produced in 2018:

In October 2018 the UK Dept of Trade BEIS, and its Enterprise Analysis Unit in London, commissioned Gibson Index to map the UK’s companies and capabilities in the robotics and automation sectors. This followed the conclusion by BEIS that Gibson Index held 458 companies in total, and the nearest database competitor had only 148 companies. Gibson Index listed, profiled and rated all of the 458 companies. In August 2018 Gibson Index Ltd undertook a wide-ranging, UK-wide survey for the London-based Society of Chemical Industry of 13,800 SMEs across 14 tech sectors to determine the high-growth, maximum potential companies that will in future form part of the SOCI’s soon to be launched ‘Innovation Network’. < href="www.soci.org2">www.soci.org2

Research Reports produced in 2014-2017:

Impact of Brexit on SMEs report:

Currently many, very large markets and sectors in Europe are closed to UK manufacturers, especially smaller SMEs, due to rampant protectionism, eg France’s engineering sector and Italy’s retail and food industries. BP Technology Centre - High Potential SMEs report: In order to prevent a recurrence of the Deep Water Horizon disaster, BP commissioned us to produce a major study of all the UK-based SMEs with technologies and products capable of adding greater security in future. More than 300 were profiled and recommended.

Main Research Reports produced in 2013:

UK Auto Engineering Sector Report:

With the revival, not to say current revolution, of the UK car industry developing at full speed at JLR, Nissan and an array of luxury car-makers, the auto component suppliers are struggling to meet the new demand. Luckily there is plenty of spare capacity and rapid manufacturing expertise on hand to fill the gap.
The Report lists more than 2,400 key supplier firms, and also includes the growing band of heritage components and full new-build companies being established.

‘Re-shoring: myth or reality?’ for Civitas, think-tank, London:

This is the first SME-focused report, due for publication in 2014, which studies from the SME’s point of view the precise nature and prospects for returning manufacturing production back to the UK from hitherto cheaper Asian nations.
Toys, consumer electronics, auto engineering and construction/diy products were among the first to move to China in the mid-1990s. How likely is it that these will return? A survey of 20 SMEs that have re-shored to the UK, and reaped the rewards, is attached.

Main Research Reports produced in 2012:

UK Trade & Investment:

London 2012 Olympic Games - Search and Delivery of List of 3,000 SMEs as prime candidates for the British Business Club meeting showcase, during the London Games fortnight.

With only eight days to go before the start of the 2012 Games, Gibson Index Ltd fulfilled an urgent requirement to source, qualify and attract top-quality UK SMEs to the three buildings set aside for 1-2-1 meetings with overseas business contacts seeking to establish commercial links during the Games. In spite of the very short time available the task was successfully achieved.

Main Research Reports produced in 2011:

Shell Global Solutions:

Following direct discussions with the chairman of Shell UK Ltd, James Smith, Gibson Index was given a watching brief to highlight any emerging environment and energy technologies that have future potential, and to recommend these to Shell Global Solutions’ technology review units in London and Rotterdam, Netherlands.

High potential companies such as Marine Current Turbines Ltd, the hydrogen research being undertaken by Prof John Foord at the University of Oxford, and biomass research at Aston University have, for example, have been highlighted.

Main Research Reports produced in 2010:

Royal Academy of Engineering:

The UK's pre-eminent engineering institution invited Gibson Index to suggest the best 500 smaller companies which would be likely future winners of the academy's MacRobert Award, the No.1 prize in British engineering. Our 'unique' work for the academy was featured and praised in an article in 'The Times' newspaper written by the awards chairman Dr Geoff Robinson.

Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, USA:

Gibson Index was asked by this American venture capital firm – which has invested in more than 15 companies in the UK and Ireland since 1999 - to search for the very best candidates for IPOs, trade sales or acquisitions among the UK emerging tech SME sector.

Main Research Reports produced in 2009:

Advantage West Midlands:

Advantage West Midlands (AWM), the regional development agency, for the city of Birmingham and its conurbation, commissioned Gibson Index to create a profile and contact database of the fast-growing but under-rated ICT sector in the area. As a result of this research, Gibson Index not only doubled the number of companies known to AWM, but the survey also resulted in a sharp increase in the number of entrants into AWM’s annual ICT awards, and the review gave long-term beneficial publicity to a group of little-known businesses involved in advanced computing across the region.

Secondly, AWM commissioned Gibson Index to undertake an ‘horizon scanning’ exercise for the region. This was designed to pinpoint and recommend a series of new activities, innovative business sectors and trends which were best suited to the region, and which could be exploited to maximum effect in future. This review benefited from the international expertise and worldwide travel of Gibson Index staff. They attend about 100 of the world’s top innovation summits, conferences and exhibitions each year, including ‘The Economist’s Innovation Summit (November), the Cleveland Clinic’s annual medical innovation summit, held in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, and the ‘Future in Review’ conference, held in California each year in May.

Technology Strategy Board:

The Technology Strategy Board, the UK’s principal agency for assisting SME innovation, invited Gibson Index Ltd to offer their opinions on the future potential of around 60 high potential small companies in the UK. A full review of the company’s future was given, together with a review of competitor companies based in the UK. Where, in our opinion, a superior company was identified, this was highlighted and recommended as an alternative.

Previous Landmark Reports

1999 – 'New Zealand: The Future?'

This was initially organised by HR group Korn Ferry, on behalf of the New Zealand Government. Dozens of New Zealand's most influential individuals and experts gave their personal view on the direction and future policies surrounding innovation and enterprise. These included the head of the Bank of New Zealand, leaders of large business, SMEs and society at large, and from the Maori community. The report provided a unique and independent snapshot of the many ideas and directions about the ways in which a small country - at the far reaches of the global economy – could maximise its economy and influence.

2001 – 'The University Culture of Enterprise: Knowledge Transfer across the Nation'

This was commissioned by Universities UK, the national association of British and Northern Irish Universities. This was the first attempt to identify the best examples of academic enterprise emerging across the UK in the wake of the first tranche of Third Stream funding by the UK Government. The achievements of well-known Universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College and UCL were set out alongside those from newer Universities such as the University of the West of England (Bristol), Bournemouth, Salford and. Dundee.

In addition, the early achievements of pioneering academics such as Prof David Payne of Southampton University – famed for creating the fibre optic amplifier that was the basis of modern Internet communications, of Prof Deborah Withington, of Leeds University, an expert in acoustics who produced a sound alarm that directed people trapped in smoke-filled rooms to the nearest exit.

Research into UK academic enterprise remains a key focus for Gibson Index researchers – and we have logged and noted around 800 business-active University spinout companies – far more than any other research institution, whether Government- or privately-funded.

As a result of this activity, Marcus Gibson increased the number of UK Universities visited to 102 – out of a current total of 120, and also significantly expanded the database of elite contacts.

2003 – 'Universities and the Creative Industries'

The report was also commissioned by Universities UK. This was the first Report that pinpointed, and crucially also mapped nationwide, the best examples of the many vital links between UK Universities and vibrant, world-class economic sectors in Britain such as music, the arts, design, literature, fashion, digital industries, and many others.

We found that the immensity of the contribution of the Universities to the Creative Industries was little known and little understood. Few are aware, for example, that Queen's University, Belfast, holds each year the second largest arts festival in the UK, or that the degree show at the London College of Fashion is a 'must attend' event for dozens of representatives from the biggest fashion houses around the world.

In publishing & books – one of the SME categories in the Gibson Index – the UK leads the world, for example, as it is one of the few sectors dominated by American firms or the US market. Each year, the University of Northumbria, in north-east England, holds an annual digital arts festival which attracts thousands of specialists.

Some 35,000 design graduates emerge from British Universities each year, and the colleges of design have developed close links with engineering and electronics companies, and many hundreds of small design firms nationwide.

2004 – 'British Inventors: How to make life easier for them'

This was commissioned by NESTA, the national innovation and promotion agency set up by the Government to help innovators and early stage inventors get their projects off the ground.

The life and career of a British inventor can be long, lonely and frustrating. Too many good ideas have been lost to the economy due to indifference or lack of funding, or the absence of trustworthy contacts, backers and connections. The Report's team members visited many institutions in the front line of the innovation economy, and offered 35 Recommendations to break down the isolation experienced by inventors. A key element was the proposed expansion of the Virtual Company Scheme, a method of building a commercial entity pioneered by the late David Nicholas MBE, of BusinessLink Wessex.

The Report also produced a list of successful British inventors – most of whom were virtually unknown – who in some cases had designed products that had been sold for a collective value in excess of $200m. One inventor, the gifted chemist Bruce Green, who works in a garden shed in Northamptonshire, first produced an effective and non-toxic treatment against head lice for children that did not contain organophosphates. At first, he could not persuade a number of schoolchildren to trial the new medicine – until he formed a group and named it 'The Lice Girls', and its efficacy was quickly proven.

He later went to pioneer special wipes made from a chloride solution – fully effective in hospitals against MRSA and other infections – and his technology was successfully commercialised in the company Tristel plc, which went on the London Stock Market in 2005. His wipes are now used in the majority of UK hospitals and clinics.