CIR Accreditation: what constitutes ‘R&D Activity’ ?
According to the Frascati Manual, R&D activity must satisfy the following criteria:
It must involve an element of originality: The acquisition of new knowledge is an expected outcome of any R&D project, which should, however, be adapted according to the context. The innovation may arise from a project which leads to a different conclusion than what was initially envisaged based on the hypotheses. Provided that R&D activity concerns the structured creation of knowledge, including knowledge embedded in products and processes, it is this new knowledge that should be measured, not the new or improved products or processes that result from its application.
It must involve an element of creativity: Applying new concepts or ideas that will improve the existing state of knowledge must be another objective of any R&D project. Any solution to a problem, which is designed in the framework of a project, may qualify as R&D activity when the result obtained is original, and satisfies the other criteria.
It must involve an element ofuncertainty: The method in which the project is to be undertaken or the solution is to be obtained, cannot be known or determined in advance, based on identifiable knowledge. For example, an R&D project may eliminate a multitude of competing hypotheses, but it cannot discard all of them. Uncertainty is a fundamental criterion when it comes to distinguishing between prototypes according to whether they are intended for R&D (models used to test technical concepts and techniques with a high risk of failure, in terms of applicability) or not (pre-production units, beta software etc.).
It must be systematic: R&D is a structured activity that is carried out systematically. In this case, “systematic” means that the ways in which R&D is carried out have been planned and that its progress and results are recorded.
It must be transferable and/or reproducible: an R&D activity should lead to the possibility of transferring the new knowledge acquired, ensuring its use and enabling other researchers to replicate the results obtained in their own R&D activities. This includes R&D activities that lead to negative results, such as the invalidation of the initial hypothesis or the inability to develop a product as originally planned. Since the aim of R&D is to enrich the stock of knowledge, its results should not remain tacit (i.e. be confined to the minds of researchers), otherwise they risk being lost, along with interrelated knowledge. In the private sector, results will often, undoubtedly be required to be kept secret due to intellectual property rules and business secrecy, however it is common practice for companies to at least record the progress and results of the activity internally, for the benefit of other researchers specialising in the relevant field.
Do not hesitate to contact our team for more information on the eligibility criteria for R&D projects, if you are planning on submitting an application for CIR Accreditation.
Source: “Guide to the 2020 research tax credit” written by the “Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation”