16TH JUNE, 2023

The Potential of R&D Tax Credits for Manufacturing and Engineering SMEs in Ireland

Welcome to our in-depth exploration of how Research and Development (R&D) tax credits can be a game-changer for Manufacturing and Engineering SMEs in Ireland. In recent years, these sectors have been rapidly evolving, with advancements in automation, robotics, 3D printing, and other cutting-edge technologies. As a result, competition has become fiercer than ever before, and SMEs are increasingly feeling the pressure to keep up.

While the rewards for innovation can be significant, the cost of R&D can be high. SMEs often face a host of financial and operational hurdles that can hinder their development and growth. Limited access to finance, attracting skilled staff, managing costs, and gaining access to international markets are just some of the most common challenges.

However, there is good news. The Irish government recognises the critical role that SMEs play in driving innovation and has designed an R&D tax incentive programme to boost their potential, investment and productivity. R&D tax credits can act as a catalyst for growth, enabling Manufacturing and Engineering SMEs to increase their capacity, invest in new technologies, build expert teams, and become more competitive in international markets.

In this comprehensive blog, we will guide you through the fundamentals of the R&D tax incentive scheme and show you how it may benefit your SME. We will provide an in-depth overview of the application process and highlight key factors to consider when applying. Additionally, we will showcase how R&D tax credits can alleviate some of the most common challenges faced by SMEs, enabling them to achieve their full potential.

Understanding R&D Tax Credits in Ireland

Explaining R&D tax credits and their significance

Research and Development (R&D) tax credits are a valuable financial incentive aimed at supporting Manufacturing and Engineering SMEs in Ireland.

R&D tax credits offer numerous benefits to these companies, such as cash refunds, reduced tax liability, and increased cash flow.

Cash refunds can be particularly beneficial for startups and small businesses, as they offer a much-needed injection of liquidity. In addition, reduced tax liability can free up funds that can be directed towards R&D activities.

Businesses can see their tax bill reduced by as much as 25% thanks to R&D tax credits. This savings can then be invested into innovation without the risk of taking on additional debt. Perhaps most importantly, utilising R&D tax credits allows Manufacturing and Engineering SMEs to invest more in R&D and accelerate their growth.

This investment can result in the creation of new products, services or processes that differentiate the enterprise from competitors. In turn, this could lead to an increased customer base, higher sales, and greater profits. In fact, research shows that businesses that invest in R&D are more likely to have higher revenue growth and profits than those that don't.

Overall, R&D tax credits can provide the financial incentive for businesses to undertake more risk in their R&D investments, ultimately leading to higher levels of innovation and growth.

Eligibility criteria and application process for SMEs

As an Irish enterprise looking to unlock your growth potential, utilising R&D tax credits can be a game-changer. But before we dive into maximising your eligibility, let's first explore the eligibility criteria for R&D tax credits in Ireland. To be eligible, enterprises must be carrying out qualifying R&D activities.

This includes conducting research and development aimed at achieving scientific or technological advancement and overcoming scientific or technological uncertainties. Expenses such as wages, materials, overheads, and certain subcontractor costs can also be eligible for R&D tax credits.

If your enterprise is not focused solely on innovation but is carrying out R&D activities to improve its products, services or processes, you could still be eligible to unlock your growth potential with R&D tax credits.

The application process for R&D tax credits can be complex, but it begins with preparing and submitting an R&D tax credit claim alongside the company's tax return. The claim must include a detailed description of the R&D activities undertaken, as well as evidence of the claimed eligible expenditure. It is important to note that the process requires close collaboration with specialised tax professionals with knowledge and experience in the R&D tax credit landscape.

Overview of the financial benefits of R&D tax credits

One of the most significant advantages of R&D tax credits is that they provide valuable financial support to SMEs looking to invest in innovation and R&D projects. The value of the R&D tax credits awarded to SMEs is calculated based on eligible expenditure incurred on qualifying R&D activities. This expenditure can include staff costs, consumables, and software licenses. In Ireland, SMEs can claim back up to 25% of their eligible expenditure on R&D activities. This financial boost can provide the necessary resources to develop new products, expand into new markets, and attract high-skilled personnel, all of which can drive significant growth for SMEs in the Manufacturing and Engineering sectors.

Addressing Challenges through R&D Tax Credits

Manufacturing and Engineering SMEs in Ireland face several challenges that hinder their growth and sustainability. However, R&D tax credits provide a potentially vital boost to innovation, finance, skills, exporting, digital transformation, and regulatory compliance.

Overcoming financial constraints and accessing funds

Irrespective of the size of the Manufacturing and Engineering SMEs, accessing finance through traditional means can be difficult. R&D tax credits directly support SMEs' access to finance, enabling them to invest in innovative technologies, new product lines, and research and development that would otherwise be unattainable. SMEs can confidently pursue these opportunities without worrying about the financial burden or limitations.

Fostering innovation and technological advancements

Innovation drives growth, and R&D tax credits help SMEs to innovate by providing a financial incentive, fostering the adoption of new technologies, and furthering research opportunities. By doing so, businesses can create new products, improve existing products, and develop services that appeal to customers and are ahead of their competitors.

Attracting skilled talent and bridging the skills gap

With the industry's skills gap continuously growing, attracting skilled workers into the industry can be challenging. However, SMEs engaging in innovative projects and utilising R&D tax credits, offer something different to candidates, which often proves more appealing. By investing in R&D, businesses can provide opportunities for employees to grow their skillset and offer involvement in fulfilling projects. This drive for innovation also generates new job opportunities for skilled professionals, which helps bridge the skills gap.

Expanding into international markets and boosting exports

Through R&D and utilisation of tax credits, SMEs can develop products, improve product offerings, and enhance market positioning, supporting export-oriented growth strategies, and expanding into international markets. With increased cash flow and innovative ideas, SMEs can lead the way in developing new solutions that cater to global customer demands.

Digital Transformation

Digital transformation and integration of technology are essential for SMEs to remain competitive and survive in a constantly changing market environment. However, implementing these technologies can be expensive. With R&D tax credits' help, SMEs can invest in industry 4.0 technologies such as automation, robotics, data analytics, and IoT solutions, enhancing operational efficiency and optimising processes.

Regulatory Compliance and Quality Certifications

Meeting regulatory compliance standards and obtaining quality certifications can be a significant financial burden on SMEs. Utilising R&D tax credits allow businesses to offset the costs associated with R&D aimed at complying with regulations, ensuring product safety and quality certifications, enhancing their market credibility.

R&D tax credits provide SMEs in the manufacturing and engineering sectors with a much-needed boost to overcome financial constraints, drive innovation, attract talent, expand internationally, implement digital transformation, and meet regulatory compliance standards. SMEs must consult with a professional tax specialist before embarking upon such an initiative to ensure eligibility criteria and optimal benefit fulfillment. With the right expert advisory, R&D tax credits can help develop a brighter future for SMEs.

Strategies for Maximising R&D Tax Credits

To fully maximise the benefits of R&D tax credits, Manufacturing and Engineering SMEs need to understand the strategies and best practices that will help them make the most of this valuable financial support. Here are some tips to help you maximise the benefits of your R&D tax credit:

Proper Documentation: One of the most critical aspects of claiming R&D tax credits is maintaining accurate and detailed records of your R&D activities and expenditures. Ensure that you keep comprehensive records of staff time, material costs, and other expenses related to R&D activities to satisfy Revenue requirements. By keeping detailed records, you will have all the necessary information to support your claim, facilitating it to go through seamlessly.

Eligible R&D Activities: It's important to understand the definition and criteria of the qualifying R&D activities that qualify for R&D tax credit. By identifying activities that qualify you will have the opportunity to maximise your claim and provide the details required for a successful claim. Some of the examples of qualifying R&D activities include the development of new products, processes or services.

Collaboration with Tax Professionals or Advisors: You can increase the chances of successful R&D tax credit claim by collaborating with tax professionals or other advisors who have in-depth knowledge of the R&D tax credit program. They can not only help you identify eligible R&D activities but also assist in the documentation process and ensure that your claim meets the Revenue requirements.

Strategic Utilisation: The R&D tax credit can be a valuable resource to SMEs to drive innovation, competitiveness, and growth. Therefore, it's important to plan strategically and utilise the credit for initiatives that will expand your R&D and innovation capabilities while also adding value to the business. Consider investing in emerging technologies, hiring skilled talents, expanding to new markets, or increasing your R&D capacity.


R&D tax credits offer an incredible opportunity for Manufacturing and Engineering SMEs in Ireland to overcome their financial and growth challenges while driving innovation. This blog has highlighted the importance of understanding the intricacies of R&D tax credits and how they work. By effectively navigating the R&D tax credit landscape, SMEs can unlock the full potential of this valuable financial support.

It is crucial for SMEs to remember that each business is unique, and the strategies presented in this guide serve as a starting point. It is essential to tailor these strategies to specific circumstances and seek professional advice when necessary.

In conclusion, R&D tax credits have the potential to transform the competitive landscape for Manufacturing and Engineering SMEs in Ireland. We encourage SMEs to explore and leverage R&D tax credits to overcome their challenges, drive innovation, and fuel their growth. By doing so, they can pave the way for a successful future for their SMEs. Let's unlock the power of R&D tax credits and take advantage of the opportunities they provide.

Contact us to discuss any aspect of R&D tax credits for your innovative company

There are a number of state-backed financial schemes designed to assist companies with the cost of innovation, notably R&D Tax Credits and R&D Grants. However, putting together an application for either relief can be a tough process and there are many pitfalls, which is why you should use a highly skilled R&D tax relief firm such as ourselves.

Myriad Associates (developers of the Tax Cloud portal) is on hand to help with every aspect of putting your R&D tax relief claim together. From our initial meeting to crafting the perfect narrative report, right through to completion our team of R&D tax relief specialists and accountants are proud of their 100% success rate in getting Irish businesses the reliefs they deserve.

Why not try out our Tax Cloud portal for businesses and see what you could be owed, or call our Dublin-based team on +353 1 566 2001. Alternatively, please use our contact page and we'll be pleased to get back to you.

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
Powered by Myriad Logo

Myriad are the creators of Tax Cloud, we help enterprises navigate, apply and secure tax incentives and grants. We specialise in R&D Tax Credits, Enterprise Ireland grants, Horizon Europe grants, and the Digital Games Tax Credit

  • Submitting R&D tax claims since 2017
  • Strong track record delivering R&D tax credit claims
  • Over €10m claimed and counting
  • Industry leading specialists
  • We employ technical, costing and tax experts
  • Confident of delivering value to our clients, we offer our R&D tax services on a success fee-only basis.

Meet some of the team behind Tax Cloud

Barrie Dowsett Barrie Dowsett ACMA CGMA Chief Executive Officer
Jillian Chambers Jillian Chambers Technical Analyst/Writer
Lauren Olson Lauren Olson Technical Analyst Manager
Rabia Mohammad Rabia Mohammad Corporate Tax Associate