Budget 2017   R&D tax credits - Large enterprises to benefit from rate increase

Budget 2017 R&D tax credits - Large enterprises to benefit from rate increase

In response to the OBR’s gloomy forecast for the UK’s GDP, the Chancellor responded with his plans for investing in the UK to raise productivity by investing in R&D.  

Along with direct funding, the Chancellor gave big businesses a boost with R&D tax credits. Large enterprises will get a 1% increase in the rate of Research and Development Expenditure Credits (RDEC) to 12%.  This will give businesses a net return of 9.72% on their R&D expenditure.

The new rate for the RDEC will come into effect from 1 January 2018 – a more immediate change to get companies spending in the new year.  Meanwhile, the reduction of corporation tax to 17% by 2020 will stay on track.

There are also plans for an ‘Advanced Clearance Service’ for the RDEC, which we expect will operate similar to Advanced Assurance available to SMEs.

The Budget shows the Government is intent on the UK remaining an attractive prospect for innovation and productivity.

Wondering how much R&D tax relief you could claim? Find out with our tax calculator

Think tank suggests scrapping R&D scheme

Think tank suggests scrapping R&D scheme

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) published its ‘Industrial strategy - Steering Structural Change in the UK Economy’ this month, calling for R&D and Patent Box schemes to be phased down and ultimately largely abolished.

The IPPR acknowledged the importance of R&D tax credits in driving ‘long-run productivity improvement’ and keeping ‘the economy at the frontier of globally competitive sectors’. However, they argue:

A small number of large corporations reap 95 per cent of the patent box and 80 per cent of R&D tax credits. We estimate that between 57 and 80 per cent of R&D tax credits are deadweight, subsidising spending which would have happened anyway, at an annual cost of £1.8–1.9 billion.

We believe that the advantages of the scheme for SMEs is irrefutable, and to dismantle the scheme would be harmful to the UK economy. 

If we examine the ONS data released last month the picture looks slightly different, to the one painted by the IPPR.

In 2015-16, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) submitted a total of 23,645 R&D claims compared with 2,610 by Large Enterprises (LEs).  In the same period SMEs benefitted from £1.165billion in tax credits.  As expected the LEs spend more on R&D on average and received a larger share at £1.43billion. But this doesn’t equate to the 80% of potential tax credits for LE’s quoted by the IPPR.

·        SMEs benefitted from £1.165billion from the R&D tax relief scheme in 2015-16.

Indeed, the number of SMEs claims in 2015-16 grew by 34% compared with only an 8% increase of claims made by LEs.

The original purpose of the scheme is to support SMEs, which it continues to do. So, are LEs to blame for the ‘deadweight’ having taken advantage of the scheme?  Is removing the scheme for the answer?

LEs using the RDEC scheme

It should come as no surprise that LE spend the most on R&D, but the IPPR have said that they would spend that anyway.

LEs can only use the RDEC scheme which currently gives a net benefit 8.91% on their investment, compared to a maximum of 33.35% for SMEs.

However, many LEs and Multi-National Corporations are closely scrutinising the cost of being in the UK. A deal for Brexit is still to be finalised and if the R&D scheme is scrapped the grass might start to look greener elsewhere.

A closer look at Corporation Tax

The main rate of corporation tax has gradually reduced since 2010 in line with the small profits rate so the UK is an attractive place for companies. This means the largest companies now pay the same rate of tax as the smallest.  This does not explain why LEs get more value out of the R&D scheme but does show the advantage that the larger companies have been gaining over the years.

Targeting R&D tax relief is not the only means of increasing productivity, and we think it’s counter-intuitive.  The IPPR even suggest this in saying that a 1% reduction in corporation tax for SMEs would boost productivity. 

So maybe rather than look to abolish R&D tax relief, which is now established and well used across the UK, the Government could look to revise it’s standing on corporation tax to level the playing field.

Only for the young?

IPPR conclude that the R&D schemes should be abolished save for SMEs younger ‘say, five years old’.

Piers Pye-Watson, our Tax Manager thinks that this would discriminate against older struggling business who might want to innovate:

‘Our experience is that truly innovative SMEs have benefitted significantly from the scheme irrespective of their age.  Start-up have enjoyed tax credits when undertaking their R&D before the benefits of their trade have come in.  At the same time, highly skilled, experienced and market-leading but small manufacturers manage their cashflow on the basis that they will receive a smaller corporation tax bill or tax credit.

‘We have a client who needed to cut costs to keep trading during a dry spell and was considering staff redundancies. The payable tax credit under the SME scheme gave vital cashflow that saved their workforce until their new products provided the expected return.’

Improving UK productivity

UK productivity should be targeted and improved, but not at the cost of helping companies, especially SMEs, invest in R&D.

We can see that a fine balance must be struck.  The UK government must boost innovation and productivity with SMEs whilst keeping the UK attractive for LEs and Multi-National Corporations.

Where funding is available, the concept of a National Investment Bank, posed by the IPPR is a positive and direct move that could bolster the UK’s R&D.  However, setting up a new system would incur costs, when HMRC already have systems in place to provide the existing tax reliefs.

Philip Hammond gives his Budget this Wednesday, 22nd November 2017 and we will learn more about how the Government plans to tackle the challenges of increasing the UK’s productivity and R&D.

Read The Institute for Public Policy Research ‘Industrial strategy - Steering Structural Change in the UK Economy' 


What are the current trends in R&D Tax relief?

What are the current trends in R&D Tax relief?

Over £3billion R&D tax relief was claimed in the 2015-16 tax year alone. The total number of R&D tax relief claims and the amount claimed has continued to rise each year since the scheme was introduced.

We recently posted an article on HMRC’s Research and Development Tax Credits Statistics for 2017.  These covered the 3 years to 31st March 2016 and gave us some interesting reading.

In each of those years, there has been a clear increase in the total number of R&D claims and the actual amount claimed. All positive news of the UK’s R&D future, but we wanted to look at the data more closely to see if it would provide insight into differences by geography and industry.

R&D claims by Industry

The manufacturing and information and communication industries have provided the largest number of claims with over 53% in 2015-16.  However, numerous other industries have over the years been gradually catching up.

Whilst the actual number of claims being made in the manufacturing industry has increased, their proportion of claims decreased by 5% since 2013-14.  That 5% has been filled by all manner of industries, for example, the arts, entertainment and recreation.

This might be an indication of other industries learning how R&D applies to their workplace and being in a better position to take advantage of the scheme.  We are certainly finding that clients come to us with a better understanding of the scheme.  

R&D claims by region

London is still the leading region by the number of claims at 19%, closely followed by the South East at 17%.  However, the value being claimed in these regions has dropped over the past three years.

London’s share of the total claim value being awarded was 31% in 2013-14 but decreased to 28% in 2015-16.  Could this be the “Northern Powerhouse” our previous Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne introduced?

We have many clients in Scotland and here statistics show a surge in R&D.  Although the proportion of claims being made has remained constant over the three years at 5%, their share of the value increased from 3% to 6%.  In cash terms, the actual increase has been from £55million to £165million in benefits received.

Closer to our home in the Midlands, the proportion of claims and value received has remained consistent.  But again, the actual figures show increases. 

Over the three years studied the annual number of claims being submitted in the Midlands increased from 2,730 to 3,760 and the money being claimed has jumped from £220million to £360million each year. 

R&D Trends in the Future

It will be interesting to see if these trends continue into the year ended 31st March 2017 and beyond.

The impact from Brexit has yet to be seen.  However, utilising the tax reliefs available to you like the R&D relief scheme will be more important than ever to increase competitiveness in an ever-changing marketplace.

If you're interested in finding out how much you could claim, check out our free R&D calculator, giving you an instant estimate.

Or book a free consultation at a time to suit you below: 

How long will it take to claim r&D tax relief?

How long will it take to claim r&D tax relief?


From an initial meeting with you, claims take on average 8-10 weeks before the benefit is received.  So you understand what goes into this let's take a look at HMRC's processing time. 


HMRC advise that the processing of claims can take between 4 to 6 weeks and is usually true for companies claiming tax credits.

There are various means for any claim to be processed by HMRC depending on its type and the final process can be dealt with by different departments.

For example, repayments of corporation tax are eventually processed by a corporation tax team and sometimes take longer. In addition, popular year ends (e.g. March and December) and national holidays can mean a delay in receiving your claim benefit. 


This time can be hugely variable, depending on the familiarity of the people building the claim and their understanding of the legislation. If you are looking at doing it yourself then you’d need a couple of months to fully read through and digest the legislation, then a fair chunk of time to build the technical narrative that the claim rests on. The accounting side takes less time, but of course is critical to get right. 


Companies can claim for the previous two years, meaning if your year end is December you have until 31st December 2017 to claim for the year ending 31st December 2015. This timing drives how urgent your claim submission is.

After our technical meeting, we write the claim and the majority of those are submitted on your behalf within 4 weeks, with very little further input from you. If timing is tight, however, we can deliver quickly for you - we haven’t missed a deadline yet.

Interested in talking to one of our Tax Advisors to find out what your claim could be worth?

Book a free consultation with us:



The best way to predict the future is to create it

The best way to predict the future is to create it

What does it mean to be a thought leader? What motivates companies to innovate, where do those lighting bolts moments of inspiration come from? 

There are countless proverbs telling us to take our time and to not rush things. Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves, one step at a time, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and we all know plenty more where they came from.

However, when it comes to development in business, we can easily lose sight of these principles. We hear inspirational stories of revolutionary ideas alongside humble beginnings but rarely take the time to find out about everything that happened in between.

Not everyone knows that Michael Dell started building his first PC computer in his university dorm room. Or that Steve Jobs’ inspiration for Apple’s font design principles came from his unofficial sit-ins on a calligraphy course. Fast forward a few years and we have the world-renowned Dell computer corporation and Apple whose customers are almost fanatical about its products.

If you build it, he will come

Thought leaders who have changed the face of the world are lauded for their inspirational creativity and raised up as pioneers who mould the future. How did Jobs know that font styling would be so important to the computer industry? To add another world-changer to the mix, how did Mark Zuckerberg know that social networks would become such an integral part of all our lives?

The short answer; they didn’t.

Any development in any industry comes first from the exploration of a seed of an idea. At its inception no one really knows how far it will grow and only through testing, tweaking, reviewing and evolving do these seeds blossom into something significant.

The majority of ideas rarely make it past the developmental stages to reach the market and of those that do, a considerable percentage fail to make any substantial impact.

The thought leaders who push the boundaries of what is expected by people show their true strength in influence when they stop asking people what they need, and start showing people why they need something.

A strong foundation

All the influence in the world is not enough to revolutionise a market with something that doesn’t actually appeal to a need.

It is vital to breakdown and structure the early stages of development in order to guide progression along the right path. It all begins with Insight.

·        How do your existing customers perceive you as a business?

·        How do non-customers perceive you?

·        What are the key emerging trends in your market?

It is these, and many other core questions that will fuel the fire of ideas that are focused and responsive to what is actually happening in the market.

Guiding support all along the way

In the same way that your ideas need nurturing, your development teams need guidance.

Apparently, humans use only 10% of our brains. If true this means we all have a mass of untapped potential. But what about the people around you? Maybe they are the true untapped potential?

The people who make up your organisation are sitting on a wealth of knowledge, experience, information and insight. Ture innovative companies will make sure they are not ignoring the amazing capacity if their teams.

At G2, we love the innovation process, problem-solving and working out how products fit into the marketplace. We have developed processes to understand your business and company culture and draw out the potential of your teams.

The ultimate goal of your design & development projects will inevitably be enhanced revenue and market share. Our journey with you begins with this as a core focus and it remains firmly within our grasp all along the way. 

Our team is on hand to support you with any issues you’re looking to resolve with current products development; around appearance, performance, the manufacturing process, or if you are looking to launch a new product, bringing ideas to life is what we do every day.

Want to talk to us about your ideas? We'd love to hear from you, why not book a call with us?

Who benefits from Research & Development Tax Relief?

Who benefits from Research & Development Tax Relief?

The HMRC Research and Development Tax Credits statistics came out this month and the future looks bright for R&D in the UK, with year on year growth of claims since the tax relief started.

Tax credits started in 2000 in a bid to support businesses to innovate and create new products. It appears it is working. Since the launch, there have 170,000 claims, with a total £16.5bn claimed.

HMRC R&D Tax relief statistics 2017


We’re pleased to see claims have risen by 20% to £2.9bn in the last tax year. Which is an increase of £470 million. Overall more people are aware of the scheme and the many changes over the year make it even more favourable for businesses to claim.

Comparing this past year's rise of 20% looks rather small to the 47% rise between 2013/14 and 2014/15, but there have been a few changes in the R&D landscape over the past few years.

Firstly, the number of claims from SME’s doubled with the removal of the £10,000 limit in 2012/13. And then Universities and similar establishments were unable to claim under the RDEC scheme after 1st August 2015, which had amounted to £2bn of R&D expenditure.

R&D claims by large businesses

Larger companies are taking the lions share of the billions claimed every year, which is largely due to their bigger budgets when it comes to R&D spend.

The total amount of support claimed by large businesses increased by 17% in 2015-16. This increase may be due to HMRC’s move from the large company scheme to the RDEC scheme, which offers a higher rate of support. Out of the £2.9bn claimed in the last tax year, £1.5bn of this went to large companies.

The level of expenditure also rose by 4% this last tax year to £22.9bn. 80% of this majority was by companies claiming under the large company or RDEC schemes.

SME’s and start-up R&D claims

Things are also looking bright for start-ups; with 17% of the total R&D spend for 15/16 going to businesses trading for less than 5 years.

The removal of the £10,000 limit for R&D claims has seen SME claims double since 2012/13 and SME claims are still growing.

We can also look at how SME’s are claiming R&D tax relief. The majority of SME’s (12,700) opt for a reduction in their corporation tax liability. The rest (4,420) go for the cash payment alternative or a combination of tax reduction & cash.

4,745 of SME’s use these combination payments to bring their tax bill down to zero and then take the rest as a cash payment, which for a start-up can offer a great incentive.


“It's fantastic to see the upturn in R&D claims. We’ve certainly seen an uprise in larger businesses claiming since the move to RDEC, and we’ve been dealing with more start-ups.

Although we deal with clients internationally, we would like to see more businesses where we are based, in the Midlands, taking up this offer. UK manufacturing is now 8th in the world, and a recent report by The Midlands Economic Forum pointed to the West Midlands outperforming the rest of the UK due to the strength of its manufacturing. However, R&D claims don’t reflect this, with Midlands businesses still leaving money on the table, with the largest claims coming from the South East & London.”

David Eilbeck MD, G2 Innovation

R&D claims based on area & business type

There has been little change to the concentration of businesses claiming in London and the South East. Combined they account for 36% of all R&D claims and 49% of the total R&D spend. That’s a huge amount of cash focused in the south of England. However, HMRC does state that this may not be an entirely true reflection as the location of claim isn’t necessarily the same location as the research and development.

We can also see that the key players in R&D are Manufacturing at 28% of claims, Information Communication at 26% and Professional Scientific & Technical at 20%.

R&D with G2 Innovation

We work with clients internationally; Most of our R&D clients are in the manufacturing and software industries, which covers all manner of businesses from oil & gas to agriculture. We want to see more and more businesses claiming R&D, it’s good for business and the UK economy.

We’ve been claiming R&D for our clients since they were launched in 2000 and in that time we’ve supported 100’s of businesses, in fact, we’re still working with most of them.

We’re different to our competitors because we actually do R&D ourselves, so our technical skills are second to none. Meaning all our claims are 100% successful.

Want to find out if your businessis eligible for R&D tax relief? Book a callback below:

Welcoming our Apprentice Natasha

Welcoming our Apprentice Natasha

We wanted to introduce you to our latest member of the team Natasha Vaughan. Natasha has joined us a Tax Assistant Apprentice and will be completing her apprenticeship us.

We started off asking Natasha why she chose an apprenticeship over going to University?

"I chose an apprenticeship over university because I wanted to get work experience as well as a qualification. I feel that at university you don't tend to experience a working environment as much, and I didn't want studying for more exams to be the only thing I was doing since having just finished A-levels. I wanted to get out there and develop skills by actually doing the job instead of learning about it.

Out of this experience, I'm hoping to learn more about taxes and accounting through the job and the college course. I'm looking forward to progressing my career in that area and possibly becoming an accountant in the future if I find that it is something I enjoy. I'm also hoping to better my communication skills with customers and general skills within IT and calculating taxes."

What’s your role at G2?

"Tax Assistant Apprentice. When I've completed my training I will be assisting in reviewing company accounts and preparing information for R&D tax relief claims."

What were you doing before you came to G2?

"I was studying A-levels (Maths, Physics and Chemistry) at South Nottinghamshire Academy."

What training have you had?

"Through my apprenticeship I will be attending a college to study the AAT level 2&3 course to train more for my role."

What podcast, magazine, website or Tv show you hooked on at the moment?


If you were a super hero what powers would you choose?

"To be able to fly so then I could go anywhere in the world whenever I wanted."

What do you love about your job?

I find the company very varied and interesting and enjoy learning about clients new ideas and innovations.

We're really pleased to have Natasha on our team and are sure she will have an exciting successful career. 



5 questions to ask your R&D tax advisor

5 questions to ask your R&D tax advisor

If you are aware of R&D tax relief you may be thinking about how it might apply to your business, and how to go about starting the process.

What questions should you ask when choosing a specialist?

1.     Experience - Do they have experience of claims relevant to your industry? A well established team will use their experience to optimise your claim values, and to ensure all of the relevant work is identified for each period.

2.     Knowledge - Do their team have a strong industrial background, broad industry knowledge and understand the guidelines?

3.     Service - Do they provide a fully managed service, leaving you to focus on running your business? You should establish how much of your time and input is required.

4.     Support - Do they support you in the event of an HMRC enquiry?

5.     Relationship - Some companies want to tie you in for years, others prefer to build a relationship with you through providing good service.

Your accountant may be able to offer advice, but unsurprisingly it’s not an area many accountants feel comfortable with. The HMRC guidelines suggest a technical report is provided to support the claim, and while your accountant will undoubtedly have an idea of the industry you’re involved in, it’s not a natural fit for them to develop a deep technical knowledge of your developmental processes, or to communicate that to HMRC inspectors in the correct way.

Some larger accountancy practices have individuals or departments who specialise in R&D tax relief, and they may be able to offer the right level of expertise to optimise your claim, but directors often choose a specialist company to work with.

This decision is usually based on an advisor’s understanding of the legislation and experience of working in your industry and their knowledge of the HMRC guidelines. A percentage of your claim value is charged as a fee for their services usually based on success only (no win no fee) and as you might expect there is a variation in charges, service, experience and knowledge.

For impartial and free initial advice, and to find out how G2 work with clients please get in touch.


R&D tax credits or ‘Research and Development (R&D) Relief for Corporation Tax’ to use the full name, is run and administered by HMRC.  It is designed to encourage investment in R&D and new product development and currently provides around £1 billion in tax relief to companies each year.  The scheme was set up in 2000 and is a vital Government incentive in supporting businesses and helping the UK economy to grow through innovation and development.

The scheme has improved significantly since its inception, with the rate of relief increasing consistently and restrictions being relaxed, extending the benefits to more companies.


  • Fully managed service
  • 100% success rate
  • Payment only when you see the benefit
  • No set-up fees or expenses charged
  • No long-term tie-ins
  • Team with industrial experience and expertise

Want to put these 5 questions to our team? Book a free consultation and we'll happily answer them for you!


This post was written by our Commerical Manager Alex Atkin

Top 10 Interesting Materials

Top 10 Interesting Materials

One of our most popular blog posts has been our Top 10 amazing materials post from 2015, so we thought it was time for a refresh.

We put our award-winning Emma Hartley on the case to find the most innovative materials out there.

Pineapple leather

Vegan leather may sound ethical, but synthetic leathers are usually plastic based, which come with their own environmental issues. Introducing pineapple leather – a totally sustainable, natural ‘leather’ made from waste plant fibres, rather than cows, or the oil industry. The fibres used to create the pineapple leather are by-products of the pineapple harvest, which means no extra land, water, fertilisers or pesticides are required, and it gives a new additional income for pineapple farmers. 


Another by-product, this time of the fishing industry, chitosan is a sugar that can be extracted from the shells of crabs, shrimps and other shellfish. Its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties give many uses, from medical, health, dental and pharmacology fields.

When chitosan is blended with viscose fibres, it creates an antibacterial, antimicrobial textile that prevents odour and is gentle on the skin for people with sensitive skin or issues such as eczema. Because the chitosan is structurally bound, rather than a coating, it means the fabric keeps its antibacterial properties permanently, even after washing the fabric.


On this list just has to be graphene. There are too many reasons to list, but we’ll name a few of the amazing applications we have come across.

MIT researchers compressed and fused graphene flakes into a sponge-like configuration that has a density of 5%, and is 200 times stronger than steel. Graphene has been used to create transparent and flexible solar cells, and graphene nanotubes have been used to create a new generation of batteries. Rice University have now been able to create graphene out of wood, which is abundant and renewable, meaning it can help in the growing electronics waste problem. And this laser-induced graphene has been found to be antibacterial, and these properties can be increased by adding electricity, which has huge promise for hospital, ocean, oil-drilling and water treatment applications.

Take a look at what they are doing with Graphene at Manchester University.

Superhydrophobic coatings

Superhydrophobic coatings are a nanoscopic layer that can be applied to repel water. Just sounds like a waterproof coat? Watch this!


Braeon is a polymer ribbon that claims that it is the lightest, strongest and most adaptable material that’s ever been invented. High-strength polymeric fibers are bonded into a thermoplastic, and it can be heated to mould into a variety of shapes. A single ribbon can withstand over 2,500 pounds of pull strength – it was even used to tow a 5000 pound truck up a 30 degree hill! Move over Gaffer Tape!

Check out their successful Kickstarter campaign.

Oil absorbing sponge

Everyone knows oil spills are problematic when it comes to cleaning up - remember the photos of all the sad seagulls from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident? The problem with oil spills is that oil not only collects on the surface, but it can also drift under the water.

Scientists have created a sponge-like material that can absorb 90 times its weight in oil – and amazingly, it can be wrung out and used again and again for over 100 times! The structure of the sponge means it can pull oil from the entire water column, not just the surface, meaning easier clean up and less environmental impact.


Power generating textiles

The need for sustainable energy sources is real, and researchers around the world are looking at small-scales ways they can do this – including power generating textiles. Researchers have created textiles that generate energy from solar-cells, and from triboelectric generation – this means it generate electricity when it experiences friction. These microcables were woven into textiles which could be used for clothing, curtains or even tents. Imagine being able to charge your phone whilst walking to work!


Metamaterials are man-made composites, that have a structure that is not usually found in natural materials. Researchers from the University of Michigan have developed a new metamaterial that can change the stiffness of its surface again and again, without altering or damaging the material. This material could be used in the cars of the future – cars need to be stiff and support the weight of the car and passengers, but in a crash, soft materials will absorb impact and protect the passengers, potentially saving lives.

3D Bioprinting

3D printing technology has many incredible uses in the medical field. BioInks are printed layer-by-layer to create structures that wouldn’t be possible in any traditional method – specialised meshes and foams can be used to house stem cells to grow all manner of cells. Organs, bone stents, and pieces of skull can all be printed, individually shaped and crafted for each patient.

Self-healing materials

Self-healing materials are made up of microcapsules that contain a glue-like chemical that can repair any damage to itself. When the material is cut, these microcapsules burst, and the cracks seal themselves up.

Shear thickening materials

Shear thickening materials behave like a liquid, until an object impacts it and causes shear stress. The material then hardens in a few milliseconds, making it then act like a solid. Kevlar uses this technology. The Kevlar is soaked in a shear thickening fluid, so the Kevlar fabric is flexible when not under stress. Then, when something impacts it (like a bullet!) it solidifies and dramatically increases the strength of the piece of armour, protecting the wearer.

Or you can feel like you're running on water - like these guys!

We're always on the look out for new businesses that want to push the boundaries of what's possible. If you've got a product design that needs our support get in touch. Or if you've created the next generation of innovative materials we can help you finance your project with our R&D tax relief service.

Why not book a free call with one of our experts?

The top 3 Innovation Myths

The top 3 Innovation Myths

At G2 Innovation we have come across a number of myths associated with the concept of Innovation. Here are our top 3 myths.

1.       Innovation is all about invention.

‘Innovation’ is closely linked to exciting market entries, medical research and technological advances, so it’s not surprising that the majority of people associate innovation with inventions.

The problem is that focussing on the invention only is an expensive, resource heavy and potentially wasteful exercise.  

All we have to do is look at the patent database. Only 3% of patented products make any money for anyone. 

Innovation has to be innately about commercial success, otherwise it becomes redundant.

True innovators identify a market need or opportunity, analyse the financial returns and then develop a solution which meets these aims.

There are businesses everywhere investing time and money into coming up with ideas,  then even more time and money proving that these ideas work perfectly, rather than talking to the market first and identifying the opportunity forcommercial return.

Likewise, consultants in this field love to brainstorm, use ideation tools and problem solving techniques without first asking the questions: What does the market need? How much money will this actually make?

At G2 Innovation we focus first on establishing the market need, then taking the idea to commercial success. 

2.      Innovation is expensive and risky

When businesses feel under pressure to get a product to market quickly, they often spend excessive amounts of money refining the prototype to prove it works perfectly.

We encourage businesses to make a low-cost prototype and test it on the market.

If the inexpensive model fails to excite the market, then 9 times out of 10, so will the expensive model. In some cases, the difference between failure with a low-cost prototype versus a perfect prototype can be the difference between the life and death of a business.

We also find that many people are unaware of the tax breaks available to businesses that are undertaking a research and development programme. For instance, the HMRC’s R&D tax relief scheme exists to encourage investment in research, development and innovation by UK companies. 

The benefits are huge with companies claiming back between 9p and 33p per pound spent on development. R&D tax relief can be used to reduce corporation tax payments and even loss-making businesses can benefit. The sums involved can be sizeable.

3.      Innovation is only the responsibility of Senior Managers

In many organisations, Innovation is the responsibility of senior managers or at best an Innovation department.

However, in the same way that the 1980’s and 90’s saw the introduction of total quality management systems in the workplace, in this age, innovation must encompass the entire workforce.

Innovation should infiltrate company ideology and every member of the workforce should feel empowered to improve and enhance their own duties. This is called a Culture of Innovation and can be the least expensive form of innovation.

For instance, an office based employee who finds a quicker and faster way to process and communicate client information across departments has just innovated a process, whilst the monetary cost to the company is negligible, the commercial benefit is considerable.

Every strand of business from products and processes, financial and risk management, talent development, branding and promotion, should be included within Innovation.

Once your employees have bought into this strategy they will feel more valued and the result will be a more committed, engaged and productive team members. 

With Innovation de-mystified, it’s easy to understand why an increasing number of businesses are beginning to invest resources into creating a Culture of Innovation. The costs can be kept low, but the potential for success is high. 

If you're looking for a team to help you develop your product ideas we'd love to hear from you. Or if you'd be interested in talking to us about your potential R&D Tax Relief claim, please get in touch.

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.

Want to talk to one of our team about your potential R&D claim? Book a free consultation and we'll give you a call:

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.

We don't think R&D Tax relief is too good to be true, in fact we can tell you if your business eligible. Why not book a free consultation with one of our team and we'll give you a call at a time that suits 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.