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THE most innovative and “economically important” small and medium-sized firms in the UK may be hit hardest by Brexit, new research warns.

The study, from the University of St Andrews, notes Brexit is viewed as likely to result in lower levels of capital investment, reduced access to external finance, lower levels of growth, reduced product development and lower levels of business internationalisation for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The research has found concerns about Brexit are not felt uniformly across UK SMEs. The university says the results suggest Brexit-related uncertainty is likely to affect larger, export-oriented firms in the SME bracket and those in hi-tech and service-related industries most. And the study notes innovative SMEs “seem particularly concerned by Brexit”, and may be the most negatively affected.

SMEs based in Scotland and Northern Ireland view Brexit more negatively than their counterparts in England and Wales, the research has found.

The University of St Andrews notes this in part mirrors the “differentiated voting patterns” across the UK in the June 2016 European Union membership referendum.

Ross Brown, reader in entrepreneurship and small business finance at the university, declared reduced capital investment “critically weakens and undermines” SMEs’ ability to grow and prosper.

Source: Herald Scotland

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