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#1 2023-05-14 00:02:23

Jai Ganesh
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Registered: 2005-06-28
Posts: 43,558

Research and Development (R&D)

Research and Development (R&D)

Gist

Research and development (R&D) is when businesses gather knowledge to create new products or discover new ways to improve their existing products and services. Larger companies may have their own research and development team that will test and refine products or processes before commercial use.

Summary

Research and development (R&D or R+D), known in Europe as research and technological development (RTD), is the set of innovative activities undertaken by corporations or governments in developing new services or products, and improving existing ones. Research and development constitutes the first stage of development of a potential new service or the production process.

R&D activities differ from institution to institution, with two primary models of an R&D department either staffed by engineers and tasked with directly developing new products, or staffed with industrial scientists and tasked with applied research in scientific or technological fields, which may facilitate future product development. R&D differs from the vast majority of corporate activities in that it is not intended to yield immediate profit, and generally carries greater risk and an uncertain return on investment. However R&D is crucial for acquiring larger shares of the market through the marketisation of new products. R&D&I or R&D&i are also acronyms with the same general meaning of R&D and stand for research, development and innovation.

Background

New product design and development is often a crucial factor in the survival of a company. In a global industrial landscape that is changing fast, firms must continually revise their design and range of products. This is necessary as well due to the fierce competition and the evolving preferences of consumers. Without an R&D program, a firm must rely on strategic alliances, acquisitions, and networks to tap into the innovations of others.

A system driven by marketing is one that puts the customer needs first, and produces goods that are known to sell. Market research is carried out, which establishes the needs of consumers and the potential niche market of a new product. If the development is technology driven, R&D is directed toward developing products to meet the unmet needs.

In general, research and development activities are conducted by specialized units or centers belonging to a company, or can be out-sourced to a contract research organization, universities, or state agencies. In the context of commerce, "research and development" normally refers to future-oriented, longer-term activities in science or technology, using similar techniques to scientific research but directed toward desired outcomes and with broad forecasts of commercial yield.

Statistics on organizations devoted to "R&D" may express the state of an industry, the degree of competition or the lure of progress. Some common measures include: budgets, numbers of patents or on rates of peer-reviewed publications. Bank ratios are one of the best measures, because they are continuously maintained, public and reflect risk.

In the United States, a typical ratio of research and development for an industrial company is about 3.5% of revenues; this measure is called "R&D intensity". A high technology company, such as a computer manufacturer, might spend 7% or a pharmaceutical companies such as Merck & Co. 14.1% or Novartis 15.1%. Anything over 15% is remarkable, and usually gains a reputation for being a high technology company such as engineering company Ericsson 24.9%, or biotech company Allergan, which tops the spending table with 43.4% investment. Such companies are often seen as credit risks because their spending ratios are so unusual.

Generally such firms prosper only in markets whose customers have extreme high technology needs, like certain prescription drugs or special chemicals, scientific instruments, and safety-critical systems in medicine, aeronautics or military weapons. The extreme needs justify the high risk of failure and consequently high gross margins from 60% to 90% of revenues. That is, gross profits will be as much as 90% of the sales cost, with manufacturing costing only 10% of the product price, because so many individual projects yield no exploitable product. Most industrial companies get 40% revenues only.

On a technical level, high tech organizations explore ways to re-purpose and repackage advanced technologies as a way of amortizing the high overhead. They often reuse advanced manufacturing processes, expensive safety certifications, specialized embedded software, computer-aided design software, electronic designs and mechanical subsystems.

Research from 2000 has shown that firms with a persistent R&D strategy outperform those with an irregular or no R&D investment program.

Details:

What Is Research and Development (R&D)?

Research and development (R&D) includes activities that companies undertake to innovate and introduce new products and services. It is often the first stage in the development process. The goal is typically to take new products and services to market and add to the company's bottom line.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

* R&D represents the activities companies undertake to innovate and introduce new products and services or to improve their existing offerings.
* R&D allows a company to stay ahead of its competition by catering to new wants or needs in the market.
* Companies in different sectors and industries conduct R&D—pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, and technology companies generally spend the most.
* R&D is often a broad approach to exploratory advancement, while applied research is more geared towards researching a more narrow scope.
* The accounting for treatment for R&D costs can materially impact a company's income statement and balance sheet.

Understanding Research and Development (R&D)

The term R&D is widely linked to innovation both in the corporate and government sectors. R&D allows a company to stay ahead of its competition. Without an R&D program, a company may not survive on its own and may have to rely on other ways to innovate such as engaging in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) or partnerships. Through R&D, companies can design new products and improve their existing offerings.

R&D is separate from most operational activities performed by a corporation. The research and/or development is typically not performed with the expectation of immediate profit. Instead, it is expected to contribute to the long-term profitability of a company. R&D may lead to patents, copyrights, and trademarks as discoveries are made and products created.

Companies that set up and employ entire R&D departments commit substantial capital to the effort. They must estimate the risk-adjusted return on their R&D expenditures—which inevitably involves risk of capital—because there is no immediate payoff, and the return on investment (ROI) is uncertain. As more money is invested in R&D, the level of capital risk increases. Other companies may choose to outsource their R&D for a variety of reasons including size and cost.

Companies across all sectors and industries undergo R&D activities. Corporations experience growth through these improvements and the development of new goods and services. Pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, and software/technology companies tend to spend the most on R&D. In Europe, R&D is known as research and technical or technological development (RTD).

Many small and mid-sized businesses may choose to outsource their R&D efforts because they don't have the right staff in-house to meet their needs.

Special Considerations:

R&D Accounting

R&D may be beneficial to a company's bottom line, but it is considered an expense. After all, companies spend substantial amounts on research and trying to develop new products and services. As such, these expenses are often reported for accounting purposes on the income statement and do not carry long-term value.

There are certain situations where R&D costs are capitalized and reported on the balance sheet. Some examples include but are not limited to:

* Materials, fixed assets, or other assets have alternative future uses with an estimable value and useful life.
* Software that can be converted or applied elsewhere in the company to have a useful life beyond a specific single R&D project.
* Indirect costs or overhead expenses allocated between projects.
* R&D purchased from a third party that is accompanied by intangible value. That intangible asset may be recorded as a separate balance sheet asset.

Who Spends the Most on R&D?

Companies spend billions of dollars on R&D to produce the newest, most sought-after products. According to public company filings, these companies incurred the highest research and development spend in 2020:

* Amazon: $42.7 billion
* Alphabet, Inc.: $27.6 billion
* Huawei: $22.0 billion
* Microsoft: $19.3 billion
* Apple: $18.8 billion
* Samsung: $18.8 billion
* Facebook: $18.5 billion

$42.7 billion of research and development costs later, Amazon was granted 2,244 new patents in 2020. Their patents included advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud computing.

Types of Research and Development

One R&D model is a department staffed primarily by engineers who develop new products—a task that typically involves extensive research. There is no specific goal or application in mind with this model. Instead, the research is done for the sake of research.

The second model involves a department composed of industrial scientists or researchers, all of who are tasked with applied research in technical, scientific, or industrial fields. This model facilitates the development of future products or the improvement of current products and/or operating procedures.

There are also business incubators and accelerators, where corporations invest in startups and provide funding assistance and guidance to entrepreneurs in the hope that innovations will result that they can use to their benefit.

Also, M&As and partnerships are forms of R&D as companies join forces to take advantage of other companies' institutional knowledge and talent.

R&D vs. Applied Research

Basic research is aimed at a fuller, more complete understanding of the fundamental aspects of a concept or phenomenon. This understanding is generally the first step in R&D. These activities provide a basis of information without directed applications toward products, policies, or operational processes.

Applied research entails the activities used to gain knowledge with a specific goal in mind. The activities may be to determine and develop new products, policies, or operational processes. While basic research is time-consuming, applied research is painstaking and more costly because of its detailed and complex nature.

What Types of Activities Can Be Found in Research and Development?

Research and development activities focus on the innovation of new products or services in a company. Among the primary purposes of R&D activities is for a company to remain competitive as it produces products that advance and elevate its current product line. Since R&D typically operates on a longer-term horizon, its activities are not anticipated to generate immediate returns. However, in time, R&D projects may lead to patents, trademarks, or breakthrough discoveries with lasting benefits to the company.

What Is an Example of Research and Development?

Consider the example of Alphabet, which has allocated over $16 billion annually to R&D in 2018.

Under its R&D arm X, the moonshot factory, it has developed Waymo self-driving cars. Meanwhile, Amazon has spent even more on R&D projects, with key developments on cloud computing and its cashier-less store Amazon Go. At the same time, R&D can take the approach of a merger & acquisition, where a company will leverage the talent and intel of another company to create a competitive edge. The same can be said with company investment in accelerators and incubators, whose developments it could later leverage.

Why Is Research and Development Important?

Given the rapid rate of technological advancement, R&D is important for companies to stay competitive. Specifically, R&D allows companies to create products that are difficult for their competitors to replicate. Meanwhile, R&D efforts can lead to improved productivity that helps increase margins, further creating an edge in outpacing competitors. From a broader perspective, R&D can allow a company to stay ahead of the curve, anticipating customer demands or trends.

Additional Information

research and development, abbreviation R and D, or R & D, in industry, two intimately related processes by which new products and new forms of old products are brought into being through technological innovation.

Introduction and definitions
Research and development, a phrase unheard of in the early part of the 20th century, has since become a universal watchword in industrialized nations. The concept of research is as old as science; the concept of the intimate relationship between research and subsequent development, however, was not generally recognized until the 1950s. Research and development is the beginning of most systems of industrial production. The innovations that result in new products and new processes usually have their roots in research and have followed a path from laboratory idea, through pilot or prototype production and manufacturing start-up, to full-scale production and market introduction. The foundation of any innovation is an invention. Indeed, an innovation might be defined as the application of an invention to a significant market need. Inventions come from research—careful, focused, sustained inquiry, frequently trial and error. Research can be either basic or applied, a distinction that was established in the first half of the 20th century.

Basic research is defined as the work of scientists and others who pursue their investigations without conscious goals, other than the desire to unravel the secrets of nature. In modern programs of industrial research and development, basic research (sometimes called pure research) is usually not entirely “pure”; it is commonly directed toward a generalized goal, such as the investigation of a frontier of technology that promises to address the problems of a given industry. An example of this is the research being done on gene splicing or cloning in pharmaceutical company laboratories.

Applied research carries the findings of basic research to a point where they can be exploited to meet a specific need, while the development stage of research and development includes the steps necessary to bring a new or modified product or process into production. In Europe, the United States, and Japan the unified concept of research and development has been an integral part of economic planning, both by government and by private industry.

History and importance
The first organized attempt to harness scientific skill to communal needs took place in the 1790s, when the young revolutionary government in France was defending itself against most of the rest of Europe. The results were remarkable. Explosive shells, the semaphore telegraph, the captive observation balloon, and the first method of making gunpowder with consistent properties all were developed during this period.

The lesson was not learned permanently, however, and another half century was to pass before industry started to call on the services of scientists to any serious extent. At first the scientists consisted of only a few gifted individuals. Robert W. Bunsen, in Germany, advised on the design of blast furnaces. William H. Perkin, in England, showed how dyes could be synthesized in the laboratory and then in the factory. William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), in Scotland, supervised the manufacture of telecommunication cables. In the United States, Leo H. Baekeland, a Belgian, produced Bakelite, the first of the plastics. There were inventors, too, such as John B. Dunlop, Samuel Morse, and Alexander Graham Bell, who owed their success more to intuition, skill, and commercial acumen than to scientific understanding.


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While industry in the United States and most of western Europe was still feeding on the ideas of isolated individuals, in Germany a carefully planned effort was being mounted to exploit the opportunities that scientific advances made possible. Siemens, Krupp, Zeiss, and others were establishing laboratories and, as early as 1900, employed several hundred people on scientific research. In 1870 the Physicalische Technische Reichsanstalt (Imperial Institute of Physics and Technology) was set up to establish common standards of measurement throughout German industry. It was followed by the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft (later renamed the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science), which provided facilities for scientific cooperation between companies.

In the United States, the Cambria Iron Company set up a small laboratory in 1867, as did the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1875. The first case of a laboratory that spent a significant part of its parent company’s revenues was that of the Edison Electric Light Company, which employed a staff of 20 in 1878. The U.S. National Bureau of Standards was established in 1901, 31 years after its German counterpart, and it was not until the years immediately preceding World War I that the major American companies started to take research seriously. It was in this period that General Electric, Du Pont, American Telephone & Telegraph, Westinghouse, Eastman Kodak, and Standard Oil set up laboratories for the first time.

Except for Germany, progress in Europe was even slower. When the National Physical Laboratory was founded in England in 1900, there was considerable public comment on the danger to Britain’s economic position of German dominance in industrial research, but there was little action. Even in France, which had an outstanding record in pure science, industrial penetration was negligible.

World War I produced a dramatic change. Attempts at rapid expansion of the arms industry in the belligerent as well as in most of the neutral countries exposed weaknesses in technology as well as in organization and brought an immediate appreciation of the need for more scientific support. The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research in the United Kingdom was founded in 1915, and the National Research Council in the United States in 1916. These bodies were given the task of stimulating and coordinating the scientific support to the war effort, and one of their most important long-term achievements was to convince industrialists, in their own countries and in others, that adequate and properly conducted research and development were essential to success.

At the end of the war the larger companies in all the industrialized countries embarked on ambitious plans to establish laboratories of their own; and, in spite of the inevitable confusion in the control of activities that were novel to most of the participants, there followed a decade of remarkable technical progress. The automobile, the airplane, the radio receiver, the long-distance telephone, and many other inventions developed from temperamental toys into reliable and efficient mechanisms in this period. The widespread improvement in industrial efficiency produced by this first major injection of scientific effort went far to offset the deteriorating financial and economic situation.

The economic pressures on industry created by the Great Depression reached crisis levels by the early 1930s, and the major companies started to seek savings in their research and development expenditure. It was not until World War II that the level of effort in the United States and Britain returned to that of 1930. Over much of the European continent the depression had the same effect, and in many countries the course of the war prevented recovery after 1939. In Germany Nazi ideology tended to be hostile to basic scientific research, and effort was concentrated on short-term work.

The picture at the end of World War II provided sharp contrasts. In large parts of Europe industry had been devastated, but the United States was immensely stronger than ever before. At the same time the brilliant achievements of the men who had produced radar, the atomic bomb, and the V-2 rocket had created a public awareness of the potential value of research that ensured it a major place in postwar plans. The only limit was set by the shortage of trained persons and the demands of academic and other forms of work.

Since 1945 the number of trained engineers and scientists in most industrial countries has increased each year. The U.S. effort has stressed aircraft, defense, space, electronics, and computers. Indirectly, U.S. industry in general has benefited from this work, a situation that compensates in part for the fact that in specifically nonmilitary areas the number of persons employed in the United States is lower in relation to population than in a number of other countries.

Outside the air, space, and defense fields the amount of effort in different industries follows much the same pattern in different countries, a fact made necessary by the demands of international competition. (An exception was the former Soviet Union, which devoted less R and D resources to nonmilitary programs than most other industrialized nations.) An important point is that countries like Japan, which have no significant aircraft or military space industries, have substantially more manpower available for use in the other sectors. The preeminence of Japan in consumer electronics, cameras, and motorcycles and its strong position in the world automobile market attest to the success of its efforts in product innovation and development.

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It appears to me that if one wants to make progress in mathematics, one should study the masters and not the pupils. - Niels Henrik Abel.

Nothing is better than reading and gaining more and more knowledge - Stephen William Hawking.

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#2 2023-07-11 20:48:01

cryptonian
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Registered: 2023-06-21
Posts: 2

Re: Research and Development (R&D)

Thank you for the post. It is really informative content on research & development.

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