Defining R&D – plenty of grey

Author: Laurence Bard

Categories: Business Strategy, Innovation, Research, Research and development, Technology
Tags: R&D
Laurence Bard: "If someone has an idea and it involves some sort of scientific or technological development, the question is are they able to develop it simply or does it actually involve questions such as I don’t know whether I’m going to get there? Or I don’t know how I’m going to get there, either of those and if those are in a technological or scientific field then the answer is likely to be there is R&D.  And it doesn’t matter if somebody else has done it, if it’s not public knowledge, if let’s say you know, Google have developed a wonderful search engine and you want to build a search engine to compete with them, but they’re not going to tell you how to do it, you might just as well be doing R&D, even if you end up with something that is maybe even in theory at a Google’s product.  So it’s to do with technological or scientific uncertainty and it’s in the view of somebody who is competent professional working in the field, that’s one of the definitions.  So if you’re the Chief Technical Officer of a company and you say, “This is technologically uncertain”, then it is technologically uncertain.  But you might want guidance as to what that means as well.  But that’s as far as the definitions go.  We have a document that’s five or six pages long which defines what is R&D, but those are the key points in it."
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