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10. March 2022

When does a project fall under R&D?

Is your company involved in research and/or development? With many projects it is not entirely clear whether a project is actually research or perhaps “only” an engineering project. With our help, you can manage the correct classification of your project.

Why is the distinction important?

Isn’t it irrelevant whether my project is research or development? No, not at all. There are grants and incentives for R&D. But there are also grants for digitalization projects, such as software development, or engineering projects, just different ones. In order not to invest time and resources in a funding application that does not fit the project, the distinction must be made in advance.

And beware: Funding applications must be submitted before the start of the project!

R&D aims to increase the state of knowledge or develop new applications based on this knowledge. It must be systematic, with a defined scientific goal, and using scientific methods. A distinction is made between basic research (without a specific purpose), applied research (with specific possible applications), and experimental development (development of new or improved procedures, products, or materials).

These criteria must be met for R&D:

  1. Novelty: Generating new knowledge.
  2. Creative: The solution to a problem lies not in routine activities but in new methods and approaches.
  3. Uncertain: Uncertain in terms of results.
  4. Systematic: Planned and budgeted.
  5. Reproducible: Research must be documented and accessible to others. This does not apply to research results protected by patents.

Examples of R&D include the construction of prototypes and the construction and operation of pilot plants. Software development also falls under this category, for example, when new technologies, operating systems, programming languages, or data management systems are developed or when they involve new methods for the application or protection of software.

What does not fall under research and development?

The distinction is not easy to make. For example, these projects and activities do not belong to R&D:

  • Data collection
  • Industrial engineering and retrofitting of plants to start a production process
  • Market research
  • Routine production, adaptation, or use of software
  • Trial operation or manufacturing

Where can I get support?

You tell us about your project, and we will tell you whether it is an R&D project or not. In both cases, we can support you in getting your project off the ground – with funding and intellectual property advice, our network, and our expertise. Get in touch with us!

Your contact

Mag. Romana Schwab

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