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The UK's thirst for innovation is being plagued by a fear of failure among the country's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMES), according to new research.

The study by Hitachi Consulting found that a third of SMEs believe that fear is impacting their ability to take risks and innovate. This appears to contradict the popularly held belief that small businesses are more agile than their larger, corporate counterparts.

The research, which draws on responses from over 200 C-level executives from small and medium businesses from across the UK, also found that 52% think their organisation is not ready to respond to disruption from new markets, while over half are divided in their opinion of digital technology. One third say this divide has a negative impact on business.

David Brindle, senior vice president of technology solutions at Hitachi Consulting EMEA, said: “We work with large, corporate enterprises, and from our experience, big businesses – which often have access to big budgets and big time resourcers – are capable of innovation on an astonishing scale, as long as they have the right processes and programmes in place to support it.

"This research highlights that all business – no matter what their size or setup – experience common challenges when it comes to embracing risk and digital disruption. In the digital age, the old metaphor of David versus Goliath has become redundant - all businesses are on a much more level playing field and the balance of power can shift in a matter of days."