7 key advantages of R&D for small business


Research and development (R&D) isn't something only big corporations can do. Small companies can also leverage R&D to improve processes, create new and better products and services, and increase their profit and competitiveness. If you have an innovative idea for a new product or service, here are seven ways R&D can help you bring it to life:

1. Unique selling point

R&D can help you to develop unique products and services. These don't always have to be entirely new. R&D can drive product improvement or innovation within the existing business offering. Here are some tips on researching new product and service ideas.

2. Income

Unique products and services resulting from successful R&D projects can bring financial benefits to the business. This is usually through generating new or enhanced income streams, but R&D can also attract potential new investors to your business. Read about equity finance and joint ventures and business partnerships.

3. Funding

Doing R&D can have cost implications for small businesses. However, R&D can also offer many opportunities for businesses to seek public-sector innovation, research and development grants or even global funding and support for innovation.

4. Tax relief

Businesses engaged in innovative R&D projects can sometimes claim R&D tax reliefs. Projects could qualify if they're focusing on making advances in science or technology. Different tax relief schemes are available based on company size and project nature, offering incentives for SMEs and large companies alike. Find out more about R&D tax reliefs.

5. Competitive edge

Through R&D, you can develop an advantage over your competitors and establish yourself as a leader in the market. The development of new products and services can also generate new intellectual property for your business which could further benefit you financially. Read about protecting intellectual property.

6. Collaboration

Collaboration can be a key element of any R&D project and is often crucial to achieving success. Collaboration can take place between your business and another enterprise, university or college. It allows for the transfer of skills and knowledge, and access to facilities, expertise and potentially new ideas that would otherwise be out of reach of your business. Read about knowledge transfer partnerships.

7. Reputation

Engaging in R&D can help you strengthen your brand and reputation. If you're collaborating with a trusted, reputable partner or a strong scientific institution, the commercial success of resulting products and services can benefit from their involvement. Find out what makes for a successful brand - see key elements of a successful brand strategy.

If you are a Northern Ireland business and have an R&D project in mind, which is innovative, addresses a technical challenge and is likely to result in commercially viable products or services, you may be able to get support from Invest Northern Ireland. Call Invest NI Helpline on Tel 0800 181 44 22 and speak to a business adviser about your R&D project.