The computer games industry provides particularly good examples of innovative projects that do meet the requirements of the R&D schemes and also examples of projects which do not.
No matter how original and inventive the game storylines are, these are not scientific or technological advances. The important criterion is not ‘what’ is produced but ‘how’.
The ICT sector is so fast-moving that further advances overtake new and groundbreaking developments very quickly. What is important is that a project represents an advance at the time of development. New encryption and security techniques are being developed regularly and in many cases give rise to further advances. Even if the technique is quickly rendered redundant it will probably qualify for relief.
The same applies to new search engines using new search methods. A company realized that each object on a game’s screen had to be programmed in respect to its interaction with all the other objects. As the game became more complex, more objects were introduced and the amount of code required rose exponentially. The solution was to programme the properties of each object. When the objects interacted, a separate code was no longer required as the inherent properties produced by the outcomes.
The qualifying expenditure on developing this innovative code qualified for R&D relief. Many advances are in the software field but advances in hardware are not unusual and will qualify for R&D relief if they are designed to overcome a scientific or technological uncertainty. Equally, very small companies dealing in subcontracted work may qualify if the work undertaken is sufficiently innovative, even if the larger contractor’s project does not qualify.
Source: CRA (Canada Revenue Agency)