R&D Funding | Accessing and Securing R&D Funding in the UK

If your organisation is conducting research and development (R&D), then there’s a good chance that it can be subsidised. Both public and private sector organisations recognise the importance of R&D. Since economic growth, productivity growth and wider socio-economic progress depends on successful R&D, support is made widely available.
This article looks at some of the ways your organisation can access R&D funding.

R&D Tax Credits

One of the most successful funding opportunities for UK business conducting research and development is R&D tax credits. R&D tax credits will typically apply to SMEs, who have less than 500 employees and less than £100m a year in turnover. Larger companies can also benefit under a separate R&D legislation.

R&D tax credits essentially act as a partial refund for some of the expenses incurred throughout the process. Though it may not seem obvious at first, many of a business’s day-to-day activities and overheads can be attributed to R&D. This means they qualify for tax credits. This includes: a % of employee’s salaries, software licences, utilities costs and miscellaneous costs. Subcontractor costs can also be claimed, but only 65% of these.

What’s more, tax credits can be backdated by 2 years from the end of the accounting period. This means your company could qualify for a significant sum of money.

Knowing what is attributable to R&D and what isn’t is key to a successful application. Getting the R&D tax credits form right can be a challenge. We would suggest seeking professional guidance here. We recently spoke to Richard Armstrong at Catax, who was able to offer us professional guidance. He is highly recommended if you wish to find out more.

Patent Box Legislation

Another under-utilised tax relief legislation is the Patent Box Legislation. This covers both SMEs and larger organisations.
Patent Box Legislation can be seen as a follow on to R&D credits. The purpose of Patent Box Legislation is to encourage companies to commercialise IP in the UK. It offers a discount on corporation tax from 19% to 10%. Patent Box Legislation can prove particularly valuable in the long term, as the discount typically lasts for 20 years.

Like R&D tax credits, it is best to consult a professional to maximise your chances of success. Again, Richard Armstrong at Catax is a professional in this field. His contact information can be referred to you by following emailing here.

Regional Funding 

Depending on where in the UK you are operating, there are several opportunities to access funds that are targeted at specific regions. RGF and eRGF funds are key examples of these funding opportunities. What’s more, many of these funds will have an industry focus, and allocated particularly for research and development.
The advantages of these funds is that if your organisation qualifies, they’re less competitive than alternative funding methods. Other funding methods tend to be further reaching, meaning they have more applicants.
2 current examples of regional development R&D funds are: Biorenewable Development Centre in Yorkshire and Agri-tech Cornwall.

National Funding

National funding opportunities are those that are open to any qualifying applicant in the UK. Typically, these types of funds are provided by funding bodies such as Innovate UK. They include closed funding types. These have a particular area or industry of focus, or more open funding types. They accept applications from a wider range of industries.
Closed funding opportunities are much more common. They have a specific role, process or industry focus, with a specific goal in mind. Like regional funding, the fact that these opportunities are more specific means your business a higher chance of success (if you qualify). This is because there is less competition. Open funding opportunities on the other hand (such as SMART) are more competitive. Since their scope is wider however, your business is more likely to qualify.

International Funding

International funding opportunities are mostly made of those provided by the European Union. At the time of writing, the future of these funding schemes is unfortunately at risk due to the United Kingdom’s departure from the EU. 
Having said this, on the 24th of December, the UK struck a deal to continue accessing European research funding. This means that Horizon Europe, a significant international fund for research in Europe is still accessible to UK organisations. Horizon Europe will provide €95bn towards research and development between 2021-27. Though the specifics of the programme are yet to be unveiled, it can be assumed that a considerable portion will be accessible to UK companies. Similar opportunities for individual research funding exist through the european research council. Here, set amounts are available for individuals at specific stages in their careers.
It is not just the EU that funds international research and development projects. The UK government also provides international research funding. The Global Challenges Research Fund for example, offers funds ranging from individual levels up to organisational partnerships. In fact, there is a whole host of UK lead international research funding opportunities, with another key example being the Newton Fund.

Final Thoughts

In summary, if you’re conducting R&D in the UK or abroad, there are a whole host of funding opportunities available, with those mentioned in this article only scratching the surface. Each funding opportunity has its own strengths and weaknesses, so make sure to do your research beforehand. Remember, the more specific the opportunity you qualify for, the less likely you are to face competition, so make sure to get those applications in!

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