Does R&D spend equal greater profits?

Does R&D spend equal greater profits?

In a time of uncertainty with Brexit and questions over a potential decline in the economy companies will be looking over spend and working out where their money is best placed to future proof their business.

While investing in R&D itself doesn’t necessarily mean your company profits will soar, it does send signals to your staff and investors that you are serious about the future of your company.

And while Forbes make a compelling case for why R&D spend doesn’t necessarily indicate innovation, sighting other required factors like understanding your customers and business model, a quick double take at what Apple is currently up to blows that out of the water.

A look at Apples R&D spend

Strategy& at Price Waterhouse Cooper publish their Global Innovation 1000 Study each year in October, which investigates trends at the world’s 1000 largest corporate R&D spenders.

Apple is the leader of innovation, with the number one slot, and although they are 11th in the R&D spend table for 2016, their recent spend may see them edging higher up the spend charts when Strategy& release their 2017 report in October this year.

Over the last 9 months Apple spent $8.58 billion on R&D, 15% higher than the same period last year. Last quarter alone Apple spend $2.94 billion on R&D, making it one of the largest spenders in tech.

Now we don’t need to explain Apple products to you, I’m sure in your office a large percentage of your colleagues are Apple disciples. People who have Apple products love Apple with a fervour that’s not always found in consumables.

Apple know that to stay ahead of the competition, they need to develop products, create software, and ever faster manufacturing processes.

So has Apples increasing R&D spend resulted in more profit? Apple just released their Q3 earnings a few days ago and their profits have jumped by 17%.

R&D Company

And we can see here that as Apple's R&D spend grew, their income grew exponentially.  And Apple argues that even though it's R&D spend is massive, it is still more efficient than all its competitors.

R&D spend Vs. profits

We took a look at the top 3 R&D spenders in the Strategy& report and compared their spend with their current profits.

Volkswagen are the highest R&D spenders with a price tag of $13.2bn. Their announced first quarter profits are €4.4bn up from €3.4bn at the same time last year.

Samsung are second in the list with a R&D spend of $12.7bn and are expecting a 72% jump in profits for the last quarter. If true they will have overtaken Apple in profits for smartphones.

Amazon are third with a R&D spend of $12.5bn. Their story is a little more complex, while profits fell by 77% in the last quarter, Jeff Bezos temporarily became the worlds richest person, leap frogging Bill Gates (just for a little bit). So, Amazon is clearly making money somewhere!

R&D spend equals higher profits

Now we know that not all companies are the Apples, Samsungs, Volkswagens and Amazons of the world, but if we take these examples we can see that investing in your business does equal profits.

We’re not suggesting that upping your R&D spend is going to magically increase your profit share. These are big businesses, with lots of facets to why they are successful, but a common denominator is their high investment in R&D.

We'd love to talk to you if you're thinking about investing in R&D for your business. We're in a unique position as we're engineers and product designers, who also have experts in R&D, so we can take you through the whole process. Talk to us about R&D opportunities for your company.

2017 Global Innovation 1000 Study

We’re looking forward to Strategy& findings for 2017 when they release their next report in October. Keep checking back at our blog for our response.

For further reading:

Is R&D Tax Relief too good to be true?

Is R&D Tax Relief too good to be true?

Even though R&D tax relief has been available since 2000, we still have clients ask us if it is legitimate.

It can sound too good to be true, but trust us R&D tax relief is the real deal, we've been successfully claiming for our clients for 8 years.

On average companies who successfully claim R&D relief get between 26% and 33.35% of their development expenditure back. You get more money back for every pound you spend and with our average client claim standing at £40,000, it’s definitely not something to be sniffed at.

It’s also true that huge amounts of R&D tax credits are left unclaimed every year, allowing overseas competitors to steal a lead in R&D and innovation.   

Encouraging Innovation

Since being introduced, successive governments have consistently made the relief more attractive in an effort to incentivise businesses to develop new products.

The rate of relief has consistently increased under all political parties, evidencing a recognition that this is a valuable tool for stimulating the economy.  You get more money back, for every pound you spend and at the same time the criteria for research and development expenditure has been expanded, making it a more attractive proposition.

You can even claim if your project is unsuccessful as it shows that your work demonstrates a level of uncertainty involved in project, making it eligible.

Is R&D relief just for the UK?

The UK is not on its own on supporting this with an R&D relief. Every major economy has an equivalent scheme.  They have this trend and the move is towards rewarding and supporting innovative companies that invest in product development.

This is all part of keeping pace with our global economy.  And there is a general recognition that manufacturing is cheaper in the Far East. To compete with low cost manufacturing, companies are adding value through design and innovation – resulting in the creation of the knowledge economy.

If you are in the situation that your products are being made in the far east or elsewhere, you may still be able claim tax relief. The government recognises the investment made where costs from the development are incurred by the UK company.

Making a R&D claim

Making the actual claim can be a complex process, which is why companies like us are here to help you!

It pays to be aware of all the elements you can claim for so you can maximise your relief amount. We’ve been doing this for a decade now and have a 100% success rate, which makes us feel pretty proud!

We do also work alongside accountants, and our experience is that as they don’t always understand the full extent of the claim. It’s not just about tax; there also needs to be an understanding of the technical nature of your work and not everyone is a specialist in what you do.

It’s not just about people in white coats with clip boards and safety glasses – although you can wear them if you choose!

Over the past decade we’ve worked with companies across a variety of industries including; software, robotics & automation, agriculture, quarries, food, aerospace and gas & oil.

Is your business eligible for R&D tax relief? Give us a call on 0115 842 0402 and we can tell you!


More UK Manufacturers are claiming R&D Tax Relief

More UK Manufacturers are claiming R&D Tax Relief

A report by accountants RSM has found that 59% of UK manufacturers have claimed R&D tax relief in the past. This is a far cry from the normal quotes banded around about only 5% of companies knowing that R&D tax relief exists and we welcome this change. It’s good for UK manufacturing and good for the UK as a whole.

So, what about the other 41% that are not currently taking advantage of the opportunity?

There are questions around eligibility and ease of access that need to be addressed.  We know from working in this industry for 8 years that perceptions of R&D relief and the facts are sometimes mismatched.

Making a R&D tax relief claim

Claim criteria has changed quite significantly since R&D relief became available in 2000, so businesses that may previously not be eligible may be pleased to find out they may now be successful.

There is also a misconception that the process may be too difficult and the rewards not worth pursuing. Our service is designed to take up as little time for the company as possible.

Following an initial phone conversation where we’ll be able to confirm eligibility, we’ll come and meet with you to discuss your work in more detail. From there we take care of everything, from compiling the claim through to liaising with HMRC. Once submitted your claim takes on average 4 to 6 weeks to be processed.

We only charge for our service once your claim is successful and we pride ourselves on making the process as pain free as possible.

UK Manufacturing R&D Facts

Between 2013-2015 more than 6,000 UK manufacturing claims were made totalling £770m, so we’d advise anyone who is not sure of a claim to get in touch with us.

UK manufacturing generates more than 50% of exports and 70% of UK business innovation. At a time of uncertainty with Brexit & concerns around recruiting and retaining talent, a thriving manufacturing sector is more important than ever.

We all need and want a healthy manufacturing industry. To leave potential funds on the table seems like a risk businesses don’t need to be taking.

Here’s some UK Manufacturing R&D facts for you from HMRC:

·        10% rise in the number of manufacturing claimants between 2013-2015

·        ‘Manufacturing’, ‘Professional, Scientific and Technical’, and ‘Information and Communication’ sectors continued to have the greatest volume of claims, making up a total of 75% of claims and 77% of the total amount claimed for 2014-15.

·        Between 2000-01, when the R&D tax credit schemes were launched, and 2014-15, over 141,000 claims have been made and almost £14.0 billion in tax relief claimed.

·        30% of all R&D tax relief claims were from the manufacturing industry in 2013-14. Between 2013-2015 more than 6,000 claims were made totalling £770m

Learn more about changes in the Corporation Tax Landscape and find out about Philip Hammonds plans for the UK economy

Think you might be eligible for R&D?

Call us on 0115 842 0402 for a free consultation.

Read RSM's Manufacturing Monitor 2017 and the HMRC Research and Development Tax Credits Statistics in more depth.

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Changes in the Corporation Tax Landscape

Changes in the Corporation Tax Landscape

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) have recently published a report on the ‘Simplification of the corporation tax computation’.   This sets out their recommendations for how the corporation tax landscape should change.

A significant suggestion from the report is that smaller companies should be taxed on their accounting profits.  This would remove the need for making separate and complex adjustments for tax purposes.  A company’s profit then could then be the same with Companies House and HMRC.  The target being greater compliance.

However, R&D tax relief for SMEs is applied when making those adjustments to a company’s corporation tax liability.  

The report has rightly highlighted that additional reliefs such as R&D should remain in place.  Therefore, an adjustment would be required if R&D tax relief remains the same.

The Association of Tax Technicians have noted that smaller companies could be guided so that they know which parts our extensive tax legislation can be ignored.

Making Tax Digital (MTD) will arrive in due course and it will be interesting to see if the bill (postponed by the general election) will be updated to reflect the OTS’s recommendations.  Indeed, the OTS has stated that some simplifications should be brought in with MTD.

MTD is a key part of the Governments plans to make it easier for businesses to get their tax right. This vision for modernising the tax system was introduced in March of 2015, but we're looking at introduction beginning in 2019

The reporting for corporation tax will be changing, but a place for claiming R&D tax relief will remain.

Read the full report on the ‘Simplification of the corporation tax computation’.

Find out more about Making Tax Digital.


£100m fund to attract global researchers in wake of #Brexit

£100m fund to attract global researchers in wake of #Brexit

Good news for the UK. The Government has announced £100 million fund to attract foreign researchers in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union.

In what has been called the first major reform of R&D funding since 1965, the fund aims to make the UK the “go-to place” for science.

Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Universities and Sciences, outlined the UK ambition to be ‘go-to country’ for innovation and discovery, even after Brexit.

Mr Johnson said that the new fund was designed to help the UK to attract “the brightest and best minds” and to maintain its position “as a world leader in science and research”, as the country prepares for Brexit.

In addition, the government has a target of increasing R&D spending to 2.4 per cent of GDP in the next ten years.

This is certainly good for business. The commitment to additional funding in R&D shows the governments intentions to uphold minaifesto commitments in this sector. Hopefully we'll see similar moves with the tax regime.

Further reading:

Science Business


Times Higher Education Supplement



6 Innovations in Energy Technology

6 Innovations in Energy Technology

It was National Clean Air day on June 6th, so we pulled together the most inspiring and innovative products & design contributing to a healthier planet.

Energy Innovation

The Uk's first electric trunk plant, run by Charge Automotive is due to open in Oxfordshire

Charge Automative have designed a competitively priced electric truck ranging from two to 26 tonnes, which can be built by one person in just four hours. The trucks are software based, which means they are updated and improved wirelessly.

Climeworks air-capturing plant takes C02 from the atmosphere and feeds it to vegetables 

Our high levels of CO2 are contributing to global warming, so it's great to see that people are looking into ways to produce sustainable energy and reduce CO2. At the same time we are actually producing CO2 for farmers, chefs and scientists. Climeworks have designed an ingenious solution captures CO2 from the atmosphere and feed it to vegetables.

Gulf Power launches energy storage R&D project with Tesla powerpack

The McCrary Battery Energy Storage Demonstration, a 250-kilowatt/one-megawatt-hour Tesla Powerpack lithium-ion industrial energy storage system, is designed to help industrial and commercial customers store and use energy on demand while improving resiliency.

UK government has promised to double energy innovation investments to £400m per year by 2021 

"The UK Government is committed to leading the world in delivering clean energy technology and today's investment shows that we are prepared to support innovation in this critical area," said Claire Perry, minister of state for BEIS, speaking at a clean energy showcase event.

Fantastic news! UK renewable energy generates more electricity than gas & coal for first time! 

National Grid reported that, on Wednesday lunchtime (7 June), power from wind, solar, hydro and wood pellet burning supplied 50.7% of UK energy.

Are you currently looking into research and development in this field? We've worked with businesses across industries supporting them to bring their ideas to life and find them through our R&D tax relief service.






What is the industrial internet of things & how will it change business?

What is the industrial internet of things & how will it change business?

The industrial internet of things is a term that we’re getting more used to seeing.  But do we really know what it means and the effect it will have on business?

It’s been called the fourth industrial revolution and promises to disrupt and ultimately improve the way we as humans interact with machines and big data.

Google tells us that:

The IIoT is part of a larger concept known as the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is a network of intelligent computers, devices, and objects that collect and share huge amounts of data.

The Internet of Things

The internet of things connects machines, product diagnostics, software and analytics so the businesses can operate more efficiently.

The best example of this is with smart heating systems. 

Companies like Nest give consumers control over their heating through linking up via mobile devices.  We can turn them up, down, on and off from our mobile phones away from our homes.

Some devices can even tell if you and your smartphone have left the house and will turn the heating off automatically, or set it to turn off when it’s a sunny day.

The benefits of these types of systems in our home are obvious, we are becoming more economical with our resources and have more control over our lives and our homes.

Wearable tech is also becoming mainstream with people exercising; wearing smartwatches of wrist bands to monitor their heart and distance travelled.

And it’s not stopping at our home, there is talk of smart cities, where traffic signals monitor use and bins signal when they need emptying.

The Industrial Internet of Things

The Industrial internet of things (IIOT) is where industry starts to utilise this technology to increase efficiency, eliminate waste and improve health.

·       Manufacturing is furthest ahead with the organisation of tools, people & machines; tracking stages and process.

·       Farming is starting to use sensors to manage crops and cattle to boost production and the health of their animals.

·       Healthcare is also expanding with smart pills and monitoring patients health through wearable tech. Intel created a smart band which tracks how much a person shakes with Parkinsons and Sonamba monitors activities of older and ill people.

The driving force behind all this tech is that ultimately smart machines are better able to consistently and accurately capture and communicate data.

The downside could be that as we become more reliant on tech, breaches of security become more of an issue. And some companies have been accused of treating staff like machines, monitoring toilet breaks with workers being squeezed for more productivity.

Here are 5 facts you need to know about the IIOT from The Manufacturer

1 – This growth in the Industrial Internet will increase manufacturing profitability by 21%

2 – There are 1.5 trillion objects on this planet. Only 0.6% of them are connected.

3 – In 1822, Charles Babbage designed the first automatic computing engine and Ada Lovelace created the first computer programme in 1843. By 2022, there will be over 50 billion objects connected to the internet.

4 – The biggest impact of the Industrial internet will be in manufacturing.

5 – The digital transformation will boost business. GE estimates the Industrial Internet could be a £174bn market by 2020.

Industrial Internet of Things at G2 Innovation

The IOT is not new to G2, we’ve developed our own products and worked with clients to develop theirs.  We’ve produced hardware, software and the packaging and enclosures to make products user friendly and accessible. 

When we’re not developing IOT tech, we’re also teaching it.  Tom and James both teach Arduino programming at our local HackSpace.

We'd love to hear from you if you've got a project you're working on that we could support you with. Feel free to get in touch.

IOT resources:

Philip Hammond hints at plans for UK Economy

Philip Hammond hints at plans for UK Economy

Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer, took the opportunity at the Mansion House speech on Tuesday to hint at his plans for the UK economy.

At a time of uncertainty within the UK and with Brexit negotiations having already started, Mr Hammond stated that the economy was the highest priority. Importantly, he stepped away from the approach of the previous Government suggesting that the economy will require higher tax revenues and public spending as we leave the EU.

Quoted from The Telegraph:

Philip Hammond has set out plans to give austerity "weary" Britain a boost as he signalled that the Government was prepared to borrow more to invest to lift growth and raise living standards.

The Chancellor said the country had been hit by "seven years of hard slog" and that the general election result, which left the Tories without a majority, showed that policymakers needed to make the "case for growth".

Mr Hammond told a City audience at Mansion House that the Conservatives would focus on "domestic weaknesses that have plagued [the UK economy]" including underinvestment, chronic skills shortages and the North-South divide.

As Brexit negotiations begin, Mr Hammond also stressed that promoting trade and remaining "open to talent" would be vital, as he restated the case for a transition period to cushion the UK's exit from the EU.

Corporation tax has recently reduced to 19%  and the future plans to go as low as 17% might yet change. We will know more in the next Budget. 

However, the emphasis on helping the economy will be welcomed by innovative businesses and all those wanting the UK to continue to be competitive.

11 Innovative Air Conditioners

11 Innovative Air Conditioners

It's hot in our office, so we went on the search for some innovations in conditioning.

Movement-Activated Air Conditioning

Engineers at MIT have come up with a new air conditioning design that utilizes sensors along aluminum rods hung from the ceiling. Movement then activates these sensors. In other words, the air conditioner only kicks on when people are present.

A motion-activated system seems like such a simple, ingenious idea that it’s almost baffling it hasn’t been tried before now. However, this kind of prototype is just one example of how future HVAC systems are going to be more compact and portable, helping to reduce both energy and utility costs.

Thermally Driven Air Conditioning

Another design that’s recently been implemented is thermally driven air conditioning. An Australian company named Chromasun has produced a low-cost alternative to traditional A/C units. It isn’t a widespread technology yet, and it will likely be several years before this kind of design becomes widely available in the United States. However, thermally driven air conditioning is a system that uses solar energy and is supplemented by natural gas, making it a highly efficient and effective system.

In fact, the double-chiller design provides more cooling capabilities than any other system so far, and it eliminates electricity costs altogether.

On-Demand Hot Water Recirculator

A U.S.-based company out of Rhode Island has designed an “on command” pump for a home’s water lines, which allows cool water to be circulated back into the water heater upon activation.

This product was engineered to be a solution to a major problem to which all of us contribute: Each year, the average home wastes 12,000 gallons of water just waiting for that water to warm up. Recirculating this otherwise-wasted water back into the system is an eco-friendly solution that’s bound to play a huge part in future homes.

Ice-Powered Air Conditioning

Air conditioners seem to be prime systems for tweaking and making better. That’s why a California-based company has created an ice-powered A/C system called the Ice Bear. The Ice Bear essentially works by freezing water in a tank overnight, so the ice can help cool a building the next day. So far, the design has been able to provide enough cooling for a building for up to six hours, after which, a conventional commercial air conditioner takes over.

Although this type of technology has quite a way to go before it can be the sole cooling system for a home, six straight hours of cooling a commercial building is a solid step in the right direction.

Sensor-Enhanced Ventilation

Each year, several products debut at technology expos all across the country, and 2015 was the year of the Ecovent. This ingenious product consists of sensor-driven vents that replace a home’s existing ceiling, wall, or floor vents. The best part? A smartphone app can control the Ecovent, providing precise, room-by-room temperature control.

Additionally, the system utilizes sensors to monitor a home’s temperature, air pressure, and other indoor air quality factors. Even though this system design is brand new, it’s been well tested and has already hit the market. Therefore, this is one piece of technology you can take advantage of today.

Dual-Fuel Heat Pumps

Another U.S.-based company has come up with the dual-fuel heat pump concept. The argument is that heat pumps tend to be more efficient and provide the maximum amount of comfort when using a combination of fuel. In this case, the system is a combination of an electric heat pump and a gas furnace.

At low temperatures, the pump draws on gas heat to maximize efficiency. When the temperature rises above 35 degrees, electricity takes over. The initial costs associated with a dual-fuel heat pump are more than a conventional system, but the amount of money you can potentially save over the next several years more than makes up for the costs.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

Along those same lines, geothermal technology is a major investment that promises to save you much money over its lifetime. Geothermal heat pumps have been around since the 1940s, so they’re not exactly a new technology. Nevertheless, these products haven’t really caught on until recently.

With more homeowners waking up to the importance of going green, geothermal heat pumps have grown in popularity. A geothermal heat pump gets its energy directly from the earth through an underground looped pipe that absorbs the heat and carries it into the home. When cooling is needed, the process occurs in reverse, with the pump removing warmth in the home. A major bonus of having a geothermal heat pump is the availability of free hot water. Therefore, if you’re considering having geothermal technology installed in your home, ask your technician about this valuable perk.

Smart Homes

Everything is getting smarter these days. From the cars we drive to the televisions we watch, just about every piece of tech you can imagine has been outfitted with smart technology. It’s only natural, then, that our homes would be next.

Connected systems and phone apps now allow us to control our home’s lighting, heating, cooling, security systems, surveillance, and entertainment at the push of a virtual button. It’s a no-brainer that these “smart” technologies will continue to evolve and become integrated into our homes, allowing us to control a home’s comfort levels down to the last detail. Since many of these innovations are already available on the market, this movement toward a smarter home has changed how HVAC engineers and designers approach the next big thing, which is good news for those of us who appreciate high-tech solutions.

Fully Automated Homes

As if owning a smart home wasn’t convenient enough, fully automated homes will soon become a reality. There are already technological solutions on the market that are allowing companies to experiment with automated appliances and other products. Therefore, it’s only natural that HVAC systems will one day be directly tied into other systems in your home, making adjustments according to the status of the rest of the house.

3-D Printed Air Conditioners

It may seem a little far-fetched, but 3-D printing has advanced rapidly over the last few years, so expecting products like 3-D printed A/C systems could very well be a reality one day.

In fact, a company called Emerging Objects has already created a 3-D printed “brick” that draws moisture out of an area to cool it. While this simple innovation can’t be used in extreme temperatures, and we’re still a far cry from 3-D printed air conditioners, it’s just one example of the power of such a simple technology. We never know what tomorrow may bring.

Harnessing Heat from a Computer

If you own a laptop and have ever used it for several hours in one setting, you know how much heat it begins to generate. One innovator named Lawrence Orsini, founder of Project Exergy, has seen how efficient computers are at generating heat. This is why he’s theorized they can be used for powering heating systems.

Consider this: How many times have you thought of how great it would be if you had to use your stationary bike or treadmill to power your television? It may not be a serious thought, but it’s something almost everyone has considered at one time or another. Harnessing heat from a product you already use every day draws upon the same principle. At the end of the day, why waste all that excess energy when you don’t have to?

This article was original published here.

How to write a good design brief

How to write a good design brief

A good design brief is vital for a project that will run smoothly, and delivers the expected outcome on time and within budget.  

A design brief should be a comprehensive, detailed document that will guide both the designer and the client through the project's development. 

It will inform the designer of exactly what is required for the project, guide the workflow from beginning to end, keeps communication clear between the client and designer, and will keep the project on schedule.

The brief should be open enough to allow the designer to be creative, but specific enough that it avoids too much scope creep. Remember to define "what" needs to be achieved rather than "how" it should be done. 

In this blog post we will discuss what should be included to create a great design brief. 

What is the product? 

First off, you need to introduce the product. Explain clearly and concisely what the product does, and what the key features are. Think of this as your "product summary". 

Objectives and goals 

This part should give the designer some context and background to the project. 

Explain the need for the product. What is the real world problem you have identified, and how does your product solve this? Are there existing solutions on the market? How is your product better than your competitors? 

Tell us what stage your product is at – is it just an idea, do you have a functioning prototype, or is it a redesign of an existing product?  

Clearly define the scope of the work required from the designer. You may only want the designers to get involved at a certain stage, or you may want a complete "research to production" project – what deliverables do you want to see at the end of the project? 

Target market 

This is where you explain who the user of the product will be, and what issues concern them in using the product.

Who will be the person that buys the product? – remember, this is not always the person who will use the product. How much is the product going to sell for? 

Also explain the context in which the product will be used. Will it be used indoors, outdoors, in the wet or in the heat? 

Technical and material requirements 

Think about your material requirements – but try not to be too specific. Instead of saying "aluminium", say that the product needs to be strong, and lightweight. You don’t want to rule out a more suitable manufacturing method by specifying materials too early on. 

Does it have any electronic components, or other technical requirements? Does it need to be dust- or water-proof? Does it need to adhere to any standards or regulations that you are aware of? 

Manufacturing requirements 

When you are at the beginning of a project, manufacturing seems like it is something that will be in the distant future, but its important for the designer to begin designing with manufacture in mind.  

The first thing to think about will be the quantities you want manufactured. Is it going to be 50 a year, or 50,000? How much do you want it to retail for?  

These factors will influence the choice of manufacturing method, and the manufacturing method will influence the design.  

Budget and timescale 

Both the designer and the client need to share a realistic understanding of what work is required to complete the project. Each project is individual, and the budget and timescale will generally depend on the complexity of the design.  

Before you start, make sure you know your budget for funding development – this will allow the designer to make better decisions on where to allocate resources, and to give an idea of the level of product development they can achieve within that budget.  

Do you have a specific launch date? If you don’t, timescales need to be agreed. Timescales should include a final deadline, but also project milestones along the way. These milestones are a good opportunity to review the project with the designer, and update the brief if necessary. 

Design brief updates

Of course, it would be nice to have all the available information in the initial design brief, but its absolutely fine to have questions – just make sure there is allocated time to research and find answers to these unknowns. 

Also remember that the brief is a live document, and as projects develop and grow, the original brief may change. It's important for the brief to be updated, so both the designer and client are on the same page in regards to project outcomes and timelines. 

A good design brief can be one of the most valuable tools for project management, so don't just write it at the start, then file it so it never sees the light of day again. Keep notes, keep updating, and keep learning from it. 

This was written by Emma Hartley our award winning Product Designer.  If you have any design questions or would be interested in finding out more about how we can support you, please get in touch.

UK General Election - party update

UK General Election - party update

The general election is upon us and today people will be going to polling stations to cast their vote. 

The manifestos of the Conservative and Labour parties both include commitments to improve R&D spending per GDP.  Investment is UK R&D spending will be vital in maintaining UK competitiveness in light of Brexit.

The UK is currently behind the European average of 2.4%.  The Conservatives aim to equal the average by 2027 with a longer term goal of 3%, but Labour aim to achieve 3% by 2030.  These commitments are welcome news.

In respect of tax, the two main parties are giving businesses and their owners two very different offers. 

On the one hand, the Conservatives intend to continue their plan to reduce corporation tax to 17% (currently 19%).  One of their reasons will be to make the UK attractive for foreign companies.

However, Labour would raise corporation tax to 26%.  This is a less attractive offer but would go some way to meeting their spending targets including government spending on R&D.

To sum up:


  • Commitment to meeting OECD R&D spending target of 3% of GDP by 2030
  • Raising Corporation Tax to 26%


  • Commitment to meeting the OECD R&D spending target average of 2.4% of GDP by 2027 with a longer term goal of 3%
  • Lowering Corporation Tax to 17%

Design, engineering & manufacturing inspiration - May 2017

Design, engineering & manufacturing inspiration - May 2017

We've pulled together the more inspiring news stories of the past month, including competitions, inspiration and some design fails.

1 - Innovation is on the map

The University of Cambridge is searching for it's first ever Professor of Innovation.  We're looking forward to seeing what the next generation of engineers will be doing. 

Read the full story here in The Cambridge News.

2 - Steam power ahead

Steam power manufacturing

Thought steam was a thing of the past? East Kilbride-based Heliex Power, in partnership with City, University of London, was the first to discover a way of harnessing so-called “wet” steam – a relatively ubiquitous, yet frequently untapped, energy source.

Reportedly, the expander can drive machinery more efficiently and cost effectively than an electrical motor. Its second new technology, the Heliex AirComp is up to 18% more efficient than using an electrical motor, delivering potential savings in excess of £80,000 a year for a standard 100kW machine.  Well worth a watch.

Find out more in The Manufacturer.

3 - Design Fails

Juicero design

The America company Juciero became a talking point on twitter this month as it became clear that it's juicer was slower than man. Pre-sold packets of fruit can be squashed faster by hand, than by the Juciero. Which led people to question if innovation is dead in America?

Read all about it in The Guardian.

And the new indestructible £1 coin proved itself otherwise.

4 - Challenges and competitions

Plastics engineering and design

We all know that plastics and oceans don't mix, so The New Plastics Economy Innovation Prize is looking for applicants to rethink the design and materials of plastic packaging to make it more recyclable. Roughly 11 winners will be chosen across the two challenges, who will each receive up to $200,000 (£154,000) in grants to make their ideas happen.

To find out more and apply click here.

A £350k innovation challenge has been launched to find innovative UK small and medium enterprises (SMEs) whose technology can be adapted and commercialised to solve societal and industry challenges in sectors unfamiliar to the company. 

The Manufacturer has all the details.

5 - Are your children inventors?

Children inventing

Children are the future, which is why we sponsor a fantastic organisation; Kids Invent Stuff. They're currently looking for crime fighting gadgets from children that they will then build and post on youtube!

Find out more here.


We work with businesses across technology, heavy engineering, software, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, gas and nuclear to support them to bring their ideas to life and profit from product design. 

We have brought together a diverse team who can help you finance your project with our Research and Development Tax Credit team, and bring those ideas to life with our product designers and engineers.

If you have an idea or a project that you think we could support you with please get in touch.