23RD JULY, 2020

How Can R&D Help Us Prepare For Future Pandemics?

Without R&D, the future is uncertain

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought supply chains to their knees and put healthcare systems under immense pressure. Governments around the world are turning up R&D to the max, with vaccine research, disease mapping and pandemic response planning all playing a part.

But as Ireland and the rest of the world starts to learn more about the coronavirus, and something resembling normality settles in, it’s essential to realise this is not a one-off issue. This pandemic isn’t the first, and certainly won’t the last.

Here we ask, how can R&D protect us against the next one?


1. The importance of global collaboration

The coronavirus outbreak has shown us that protectionism is our enemy. In future, countries must be willing and able to share data and developments so that everyone benefits. If richer, more resourced countries keep R&D advancements to themselves, then poorer countries won’t benefit; and in a global economy that’s no real use to anyone. Less developed countries should be able to benefit from worldwide R&D investment so that they can fight future pandemics as well as this one.

The point is that investment must be pumped into academic and research institutes across the world, not just North America and Europe. As the focus on R&D funding is increased, it’s important to recognise that international research collaboration is a fundamental tool in protecting against health emergencies of the future.

2. R&D has allowed businesses to adapt

For many businesses, the pandemic has simply been about survival. However, for others it has presented a range of new opportunities, including the chance to diversify their offerings and strengthen supply chains. Some have mobilised community efforts, developed new apps or retooled their manufacturing capacities. Good examples include local businesses offering takeaway services during lockdown, and launching online purchasing options for those avoiding physical shops. Technology companies have been working together on the contact tracing effort, whilst pharmaceutical organisations have dropped other projects in favour of intensive vaccine research.

3. Speaking of vaccines…

This is where R&D has really gathered apace lately, not just regarding COVID-19 but also the viruses of the future. Effective treatments, scalable antibody testing and vaccines that can be accessed by billions of people across the world are the ultimate goals.

4. How humans can better interact with the environment

COVID-19, like many pandemics before it, is said to have jumped the gap from wildlife to humans. This has highlighted our vulnerability, shining a spotlight on how humans and the natural environment can better coexist together. Going forward, this will hopefully help to prevent severe pandemics in future, as we adapt to more environmentally-friendly, sustainable practices.

5. Social inequalities

One thing we have learned about COVID-19 is that it affects different people in different ways. We’ve seen that across the world, men, people over 70, and those suffering with chronic health problems are at far greater risk of becoming seriously ill and/or dying from the virus. But inequalities in the outcomes of this pandemic stretch further than that: those of black and ethnic minority backgrounds, individuals working in social care and those who are socioeconomically deprived are again at increased risk. This is an area where there’s plenty of scope for R&D, now and in the future. We’ve learned so much and yet there’s still a long way to go.

How R&D Tax Credits are funding innovative projects up and down the country

COVID-19 has touched every sector of the economy, and as we start to emerge from lockdown conditions many companies will be looking at how to claw back cash.

One way of financing innovative projects and company growth in particular lies in R&D Tax Credits.

R&D Tax Credits in summary

If your company has undergone innovative work recently but is yet to take advantage of this highly lucrative tax credit regime, you could be missing out on some serious money.

For instance has your company:

  • Recently developed a new product or process?
  • Worked to improve an existing product, service or process?
  • Made improvements that reduce the environmental impact of the business?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any or all of these then an R&D Tax Credits claim could well follow. The key is here that a scientific or technological uncertainty must have been addressed - even if the project ultimately failed.

How much is it worth?

Companies are entitled to a credit of 25% of their qualifying R&D expenditure which is offered in addition to the standard deduction rate of 12.5%. This means that effectively any company based in the Republic of Ireland can claim back as much as €37.50 for every €100 they spend on R&D activities.

The credit can be used to either reduce a company’s liability for Corporation Tax, or - in the case of loss-making organisations - be received as a cash lump sum.

The claim must be made within one year of the end of the accounting period in which the expenditure has been incurred. The incentive is open to any company in any sector and of any size, with claims easily running into the thousands or tens of thousands of euros.

How to claim

This is the tricky bit. Revenue’s guidelines aren’t always clear cut, making it incredibly easy to over or under-claim. The task involves not just determining the projects and costs that are eligible, but in submitting accurately apportioned figures and an effective narrative report. If any of these elements are even slightly off course, then Revenue will find out and potentially take action.

This is where the Tax Cloud portal comes in

Tax Cloud allows you to make a fully guided, cost effective claim that’s tailored to your business. It’s a fast, hassle-free way to see what you could be owed, and of course the R&D experts at Myriad Associates (creators of the Tax Cloud) will be around to help at any stage.

See the Tax Cloud portal for businesses to find out more and sign up for free!

Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA
Author Barrie Dowsett, ACMA, GCMA CEO, Tax Cloud
Start your Tax Cloud claim now Discover if you qualify and ensure your R&D tax claim is maximised. Get started
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Myriad Associates helps businesses maximise tax credits and secure R&D grant funds. We specialise in R&D Tax Credits, Enterprise Ireland grants.

  • Submitting R&D tax claims since 2001
  • 100% success rate
  • Over €100m claimed and counting
  • Industry leading specialists
  • In-house technical, costing and tax experts
  • Member of the Research and Development Consultative (RDCC) committee

Meet some of the team behind Tax Cloud

Barrie Dowsett Barrie Dowsett ACMA CGMA Chief Executive Officer
David Farbey David Farbey MA, FISTC, FRSA Technical Consultancy Director
Lisa Waller Lisa Waller CTA, ACCA R&D Tax Manager
Lauren Olson Lauren Olson MA, MISTC Senior Technical Consultant