Key to maximising claims and ensuring that claims are robust is understanding the boundaries of eligibility. The BIS Guidelines set out the meaning of R&D for these purposes and clearly explain the criteria for eligibility. This is always the starting point for claims and we invest significant time in educating technical personnel and discussing specific projects with them in order to explore where the boundary of eligibility rests for each of our clients.
Case study - unclear if within scope
A small company carried out research in customer behaviour for advertisers, studying how they make decisions about purchases etc and how effective certain adverts might be in gaining attention. This looked like a "soft" field of technology (i.e. psychology) and so not within the scope of the R&D tax regimes, but we were able to show that they were using objective measurements and software algorithms to discover quantatative relationships between visual clues and subsequent behaviour: research in the field of cognitive science and psychophysiology, and so claimable.
Case study - extending scope
A large organisation that primarily operated quarries had made some small claims relating to a research laboratory that produced new aggregate formulations. We were able to show that a much wider scope of eligible R&D was being carried out, both in terms of the new processes required to manufacture products and the practical trials to show new aggregates were fit for purpose. Their claim was increased by a large factor. Consultation with HMRC confirmed they were happy with the process and conclusions reached.