To qualify for UK R&D Tax Credits, the project must relate to your company’s trade – either an existing one or one that you intend to start up based on the results of the R&D. The project may research or develop a new process, product or service or improve on an existing one.
The work must be part of a specific project to make an advance in science or technology. It cannot be an advance within a social science such as economics or a theoretical field such as pure mathematics.
To get the R&D relief you need to explain how a project:
Sought an advancement in science and technology
Concentrate on the science and technology, rather than stating the product, process or functionality being developed. Some activities are not science such as work in the arts, humanities and social sciences (including economics). It is not enough that a product is commercially innovative, there has to be an advance in science or technology.
Had to overcome uncertainty
Scientific or technological uncertainty exists when knowledge of how something is scientifically possible or technologically feasible, or how to achieve it in practice, is not readily available or determinable by a competent professional working in the field.
Attempted to overcome this uncertainty
Describe the methods used to overcome the uncertainties and the investigations and analysis undertaken including the successes and failures and the impact of these on the overall project. If the uncertainties were not overcome, explain what happened.
Could not be easily worked out by a professional in the field
Explain the uncertainty in the context of the known state of the field of research.
It is possible that the uncertainty was publicly known that others have tried to resolve but failed. Or perhaps others have resolved the uncertainties, but precisely how it was resolved is not in the public domain. In either case a valid technological uncertainty can still exist.
What if there is limited available information about the state of the field of research?
If there is little public information available about the project, you will need to show that the people leading the project are competent professionals working in the relevant field. This could be done by outlining their relevant background, professional qualifications, and recent experience and then explain why they consider the uncertainties as scientific or technological rather than routine.