R&D is a key component of many businesses’ ongoing success, from Apple to Amazon, Google, smartphone companies, auto manufacturers, and more. However, business research and development don’t always yield the desired results. Sometimes, R&D projects fail. R&D can also be very expensive. How you administrate your R&D matters.
To maximize your chance at success, here are some tips for business research and development to consider.
Tip #1: Identify New Needs And Wants
Innovation often builds off other innovations. Look at your market, products, services, and processes. A lot of variables change over time. As things evolve, there are new needs and opportunities. Analyze these developing needs to identify where an R&D project makes the most sense.
Tip #2: Have R&D Objectives Clearly Defined
Your R&D goals cannot be vague. Be specific. Be targeted. Ensure your project knows what to focus on and what outcomes it could produce. These details and the documentation accompanying them are important for a successful R&D project and be helpful when applying for funding, such as with the SR&ED tax credit.
Tip #3: Create a Customer Profile
To some degree, the result of R&D can be commercialized. Know your customer. Interpret the analytical data you have from online interactions and any other data you have from surveys, questionnaires, and sales. By knowing who you will be marketing the result of your R&D too, a business can better determine whether investing in this research is worth it.
Tip #4: Keep Up to Date On Your Industry
Every industry develops. Be sure to keep up with the latest. Read industry publications, get the news from business conferences, and stay informed on the latest trends. R&D projects can be inspired by what’s going on, or you can make judgments on the commercialization of something you intend to produce through business research and development.
Tip #5: Collect All Records Generated
As you conduct R&D, naturally, you’re going to generate records. Timesheets. Progress reports. Emails and notes. Keep all of it. Have a project manager or party responsible for collecting records and ensuring they can be cited if you apply for R&D financing or wish to represent your project to a third party, such as a bank or business partner.
Tip #6: Follow A Systematic Investigation
Do your R&D the correct way. Have a knowledgeable team doing the work, using systematic investigation and accepted forms of data analysis not guided by assumption. This way, you confirm you’re getting accurate data and results and can apply for programs like SR&ED without being disqualified for having conducted your project improperly.
Tip #7: Hire The Right R&D People
Have the right team in place. These individuals have skills, experience, and expertise in R&D. They collaborate with them to ensure the project is done to your specifications while still falling within the parameters of research and development. Depending on the project, this may include engineers, scientists, and individuals with specialized software, hardware, or equipment knowledge.
Tip #8: Know How You Will Fund Your R&D
There are lots of funding sources for R&D. Due to the high cost of ongoing research, and this is something you want to map out before you begin. The best way to finance R&D in Canada is the SR&ED program. This is administrated by the CRA and offered through tax credits, ITCs, and more. SR&ED will cover a portion of salaries and wages, materials consumed, and overhead costs. There may be other government grants available at the federal and provincial levels.
Tip #9: Don’t Be Afraid Of Failure
Be open to the possibility that your R&D project result will not be what you want. Failure is a natural part of research and development. It is a learning opportunity that will inform future projects and doesn’t disqualify you from SR&ED funding or other forms of R&D financing. Whether you achieve success or failure, it’s the act of participating in business research and development that is important, and it is that that will move your organization forward.
Tip #10: Be Exploratory With Your R&D
So long as there is funding available and the R&D is based on real data or analytics relevant to your business, there’s no reason to be conservative with your research and development scope. An investment in R&D is an investment in your business. Take the time to explore new concepts, markets, and products. Consider how you can position yourself for growth and innovation.
Tip #11: Be Open to Collaboration
You may want to collaborate with others to help fund and administrate your R&D. Be it a complementary business wanting to be included for a percentage of equity in the results, a business partner, or another stakeholder with resources or expertise to include, collaboration can help get R&D done in a big way.
Tip #12: Protect Your Innovations
If you discover a new product, process, or material throughout your R&D project, patent it, trademark it or get the right legal protections to ensure that what you’ve discovered remains yours. This could prove valuable and allow you to license what you’ve discovered later.