About two years ago, Simone Quin had a “if you can’t beat them, join them” moment. At the time, she was loving working part time as CFO of the CRC for Mental Health in Melbourne that was conducting research into biomarkers to detect Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and schizophrenia. She was interacting with researchers, managing legal and tax issues along with governance and liaising with outside partners such as auditors.
As an adjunct to that, Quin was also working for her own consulting business which advised companies on tapping into and complying with the Federal Government’s R&D tax incentives program.
However, a couple of times in pitching for R&D work she was told that she had lost out to the MPR Group.
Quin knew of them – primarily Partner Brendan Brown and Managing Director Matt Murphy – through her previous work at The University of Melbourne where she was responsible for overseeing the start-up investment of the university.
“I was just finding that a lot of clients wanted more services than I could offer, so one day I rang Brendan and wondered whether there was a chance we may be able to work together, as we were doing similar sort of work.”
Brown saw the synergies and quickly offered Quin a job. Quin is now an integral part of Prime Financial’s (now that MPR has merged with the Prime Financial Group) R&D team working closely alongside Brown.
Quin says she gets immense satisfaction from her work on securing R&D tax incentives for companies, which are mainly start-ups.
“I think there is probably a little bit of a lack of awareness that these tax incentives are available – and they are pretty amazing,” Quin says.
The Federal Government offers up a refund of up to 43.5% for those companies that are developing something unique. If they spend $100,000 on R&D, the Government will provide tax refunds of $43,500. It is competitive, with around 15,000 companies applying every year for nearly $3 billion in funds.
“Some companies do fill them out themselves but that can be risky and also time-consuming. For us, we spend a lot of time to understand the technology, develop the planning documentation and project management process. It can take from five hours, to five weeks depending on the complexity of the project, the industry and how much the company is spending on R&D.”
Quin, who was a national-level 1500m runner and still competes in Masters events, has always loved the story behind companies and how they have been able to innovate, particularly through R&D.
“Just like in athletics there are people who have talent, work hard and have a bit of luck. If I look at the businesses I deal with it is a little the same.”
SIMONE QUIN, PRIME FINANCIAL DIRECTOR
“I love listening to the stories of the owners and how they came up with their idea. They also have a lot of self belief, just like athletes do.” “Most of the companies are cash-strapped. With smaller companies the R&D tax incentive is a major lifeline so we really become part of their business – and celebrate the success that they have.
“We have seen first-hand the success of the R&D Tax incentive program can achieve with one of our clients being sold for over $800 million.” Quin’s role also involves promoting Prime’s services in the US. “This provides me with some great opportunities to travel to the US and see what they are doing over there and link them up with what the opportunities are in Australia. That too is really exciting.”