Developing Your Innovation Machine – Assessing Market Potential

April 3rd, 2014 — 5:49pm

Innovation still suffers from an attitude that describes innovation as, “important but not urgent”. That’s because many owners and executives pay lip service to innovation.

I truly believe that what keeps management from innovating in a disciplined way, is lack of knowledge of tools and techniques that work.

Will the Market Actually Buy Your New Product?

Take a simple example of a company that decides to launch a new product. The statistics are that only 5% of development costs will be spent on market analysis. Given the significant risk in new products failing, why do so many companies spend so little time upfront finding out whether anyone will even buy the product?

Maybe market research is outside their comfort zone; they are nervous or unsure how to get the information from the market; they feel they have less control over obtaining market information so they do what they can control, which is develop the product. In other words the, “build it and they will come” theory of marketing.

Intel did something that improved their new product sales substantially. They hired a social design engineer to go out to their customers and simply observe how they used their products and report their findings back to product development. Intel now has 100 of these social design engineers. Product development now says this is the best market intelligence they have ever had.

To find out how to gain this market information in a quick, practical and cost efficient manner, contact Brian Cookson at 416-313-2971 or email bcookson@rdpassociates.com.

www.rdpassociates.com | www.cycleofsuccess.ca

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Developing Your Innovation Machine – Discovery Skills

April 3rd, 2014 — 5:39pm

There is a general consensus that creativity is the common trait among great innovators.  Strong creativity in your team is integral to Developing Your Innovation Machine.  In extensive research, the distinguishing factors, in terms of creativity, for those who would be described as ‘great innovators’, can be attributed to: 1. strong discovery skills, and 2. a risk-free and exciting environment to exercise those discovery skills.

Discovery Skills:

Many think creativity is innate but psychologists say that only 30% of creativity is inherited; the rest can be learned by developing discovery skills.  So what are these discovery skills?

- Questioning                           – Experimenting
- Observing                               – Networking
- Associating

Of the list above, Association is hardest to master.  Association is connecting the dots.  Great Innovators connect wildly different ideas, objects, concepts, technologies and disciplines to create new and unusual products, services or business models.

So how can you develop association skills?

  1. Force Associations – Take an unresolved problem at work and randomly select a product or article on technology from places like a website that catalogues technical products or Wikipedia.  Then think about the product or article and how it solves a problem for the customer.  Can this solution be applied to your situation?  Does the product have anything to do with what you are thinking about?
  2. Take on the persona of a different company – If you pretend your company is Apple or you were to partner with Apple, how might you solve your problem? 
  3. Create metaphors – Consider if your product or service could incorporate some of today’s hottest technologies like Smart TV or iPhone, what might the new features or benefits be?

Spending some time on these discovery skills will yield new ideas.  Even spending a mere 4 minutes once a week, jotting down disruptive questions or listing out Associations has yielded some very powerful results.

Risk Free Environment:

Creativity in a team environment can only come within a free and open environment that encourages everyone to participate.  All ideas need to be welcomed, and all participants are encouraged to contribute fully, helping to develop a wide range of creative solutions.  Role models who embody this ‘risk free’ environment also influence the development of the Innovation Machine.

RDP can carry out workshops on a variety of Innovation Management techniques to assist you formalize a process to improve your bottom line.

For further information, please feel free to contact Brian Cookson at (416) 313-2971 or email bcookson@rdpassociates.com

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Be an Innovation Machine

April 3rd, 2014 — 5:35pm

One of the key obstacles that prevent companies from bringing an innovative product to market, is the risk that customers will actually buy it.  When a company makes small incremental innovations to their products or comes up with a relatively innovative custom product for one customer, the risk is usually not great and success is relatively high.

However, when companies attempt to develop an innovative product to the market at large, the failure rates are in excess of 85%. This failure relates to developing a product that no one wanted.

How easy would your business be if you could predict the sales of a new innovative product you develop?

If we look at the companies that do well in achieving success, 69% take customer intimacy seriously. Innovative products with high customer feedback have twice the chance of success, and a 70% higher market share than projects with insufficient market data.

For information or to learn more on tools and techniques, and how to create a quality system of gathering market data to reduce this significant risk, contact Brian Cookson at bcookson@rdpassociates.com.

In the meantime, here are 5 principles of practical market research:

  1. Formulate an idea or hypothesis about the expected result so that you can benchmark it against the knowledge gained and gathered.
  2. Set specific metrics to achieve before you introduce the product.
  3. Give the customers something concrete to evaluate.
  4. Make the concept concise so that you can clearly implement it in your communication.
  5. Promise only what your product can really deliver.

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Shea Business Solutions

Having the right tools and techniques to innovate can make a big difference.  SHEA Business Solutions is one such company can assist businesses to improve their innovation process by optimizing planning, execution delivery, and monitoring  performance.  All organizations need to continually improve and SHEA uses its years of experience and proven approach to knock down process barriers, institute effective communication structures, and provide focused, reliable, and timely performance metrics.  SHEA ensures that all companies realize a high return on investment from all  innovations.

For more information on Shea Business Solutions contact Jeff Hunt at jeffrey.hunt@shea.ca

 

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Companies Continue to Miss Out on Cash But Now There is No Excuse

March 26th, 2014 — 11:16am

The recent 2014 Budget has boosted the cash and tax savings for SME’s claiming R&D tax relief. From 1 April 2014, the rate of R&D payable tax credit for loss-making SMEs will be increased from 11% to 14.5%. This will increase the rate of the cash credit payable to SMEs that conduct qualifying R&D activity but do not have corporation tax liabilities.

For example: Assume an SME has £100,000 of gross R&D spend and that the company has a loss for tax purposes before R&D tax relief of more than £100,000. Under the old rules, claiming the refundable R&D tax credit would have resulted in a cash refund of £24,750.

Under the new rules, the cash refund is £32,625, an increase of £7,875 or 31.8%.

Approximately 10,000 SME’s claim R&D tax relief each year. It is estimated that over 40,000 SME’s that are eligible for R&D tax relief are not claiming for this credit.

The Government has consistently increased the cash benefit to the credit over 3 years. It is just now becoming a serious financial mistake if your business or client’s business is missing out on this significant cash contribution from the Government. If you think all of your clients are covered and are claiming R&D tax relief, the statistics would say otherwise. You very likely have clients leaving cash on the table, it is worth it to spend the time to investigate it.

As RDP evaluates each client very quickly on a technical basis, without any fee, this is one example on how we can advise and ensure that all eligible clients of your firm are claiming effectively.

If you would like more information, please call Brian Cookson at 0203 0048 303 or email bcookson@rdpassociates.com, or AK Hajee at 0203 002 0089 or email ahajee@rdpassociates.com

www.rdpassociates.com | www.cycleofsuccess.ca

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Incentives To Hire Apprentices

March 24th, 2014 — 9:14am

UK businesses with less than 1000 employees may be eligible for funding toward the recruitment and training of new apprentices. The Apprenticeship Grants for Employers (AGE 16-24) programme will provide a grant of £1500 per apprentice, for a maximum of 10 new hires, after a mandatory 13-week ‘in-learning’ period. The government will then cover a further 40-100% of training costs through the National Apprenticeship Service, based on the age of the apprentice.

London-based businesses may access an enhanced grant of up to £3000 per apprentice, while businesses in Wales may be eligible for an additional £50/week wage subsidy.

Employers must commit to hiring an apprentice between the ages of 16 and 24 for a minimum of 12 months. Youth must be enrolled in a recognized apprenticeship programme and not taking part in full-time education. An AGE 16-24 agreement between the employer and chosen training organization must be signed before the apprentice begins work, as funding will not be approved for current employees.

If you would like to learn more about this or other funding opportunities, please call Jon Ion at (0)208 2141 341 or email jion@rdpassociates.com

www.rdpassociates.com | www.cycleofsuccess.ca

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What’s New for SR&ED in 2014?

February 24th, 2014 — 2:17pm

Beginning in 2014, a number of changes have come into effect for the SR&ED program that will affect how claims are developed and the overall tax credits. We want to highlight not only the key changes, but how you can plan to minimize the effects.

Changes to the T661 Form:

  1. A new section has been added requesting information on who assisted with the preparation of the claim and the billing arrangement. The most important change to note is that non-compliance for this section will come with a $1,000 fine. We assure you that we will complete it accurately and ensure the appropriate pages are signed.
  2. The wording and order for the technical requirements section has undergone some minor changes. This will mean some changes to the way the SR&ED projects are described and some word count adjustments but you can leave that to us.

Changes to the eligible costs and credit amounts:

  1. The proxy overhead rate drops further from 60% to 55% of eligible SR&ED costs.
  2. Capital and lease costs are no longer eligible to claim.
  3. The Federal SR&ED rate for large corporations’ drops from 20% to 15%.

So how can companies plan to mitigate the effects of these changes:

  1. Companies that incur significant overhead on their SR&ED activities should consider using the traditional method of overhead allocation as this may be more advantageous. Of course, this does require good documentation for these overhead costs.
  2. Ensure your SR&ED provider is completing the newest version of the T661 including the preparer information and that you sign it.
  3. Consider hiring employees over contractors to realize the proxy amount. Putting an R&D employee on payroll, rather than paying them as a contractor, almost doubles the amount of SR&ED credits.
  4. Work with your accountant to maintain CCPC status and avoid the large company rate (35% vs. 15%).
  5. Document well. Support any eligible costs with good, contemporaneous documentation to protect your claim.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Brian Cookson at (416) 313-2971 or email bcookson@rdpassociates.com.

www.rdpassociates.com | www.cycleofsuccess.ca

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NEW EU INNOVATION FUNDING

February 24th, 2014 — 2:15pm

NEW EU INNOVATION FUNDING

Horizon 2020, the new €80 Billion European Union research and innovation funding programme for businesses and academics, has opened to applications this month.

The Industrial Leadership branch of the programme supports dozens of varied initiatives to promote innovation in growing European companies, with at least 20% of the overall Horizon 2020 budget dedicated to SMEs. Current calls for proposals aim to invest in new technologies in specific stages of development and target industries.

The SME Instrument stream provides €50,000 for feasibility studies, with a further €0.5-2.5 Million for implementation to take ground-breaking new ideas to market. Projects must fall within one of the following fields:

  • Biotechnology
  • Blue Growth technology (marine biotechnology and aquaculture)
  • Food production and processing
  • Green technology (energy and environment)
  • ICT
  • Nanotechnology
  • Security
  • Space
  • Transport

If you would like to learn more about this or other funding opportunities, please feel free to contact Jon Ion at (0)208 214 1341 or by email at jion@rdpassociates.com

www.rdpassociates.com

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Welcome Announcement

February 18th, 2014 — 1:28pm

We are pleased to announce that Richard Thorpe-Manley has joined RDP. Richard brings with him over 10 years of experience with the R&D tax credit programme, working with BDO and Deloitte.

Richard has a scientific and academic background in Biochemistry, is a Chartered Tax Advisor and is able to provide our full range of R&D tax credit services. Given Richard’s vast experience, he will be serving a wide range of clients.

He will be working out of RDP’s new office in Salisbury. Please do not hesitate to contact Richard if you have a question or need some R&D tax credit advice.

RDP continues to grow at a rapid pace with excellent people like Richard adding client value to our trusted relationships.

You can reach Richard directly at (0)1722 332511 or by email at rthorpe-manley@rdpassociates.com.

www.rdpassociates.com | www.cycleofsuccess.ca

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Grants for Northern Ontario Businesses

February 18th, 2014 — 1:27pm

Grants for Northern Ontario Businesses

The Canadian government wishes to partner with growing Northern Ontario companies to strengthen their competitive advantage. Funding bodies like FedNor, NOHFC and others offer a wide array of support for innovation and economic development in Northern regions. If planned for well in advance, government funding programs can supply a significant financial contribution to upcoming projects.

The following regions qualify for support under Northern Ontario targeted programs:

  • Muskoka
  • Nipissing
  • Parry Sound
  • Manitoulin
  • Sudbury
  • Kenora
  • Timiskaming
  • Cochrane
  • Algoma
  • Thunder Bay
  • Rainy River

Some of the currently available non-repayable grants can provide:

  • Up to $15,000 towards operational assessments and feasibility studies
  • Up to $31,500 toward the salary of a youth intern
  • Up to $50,000 towards skills training for manufacturers
  • Up to $250,000 towards R&D projects

If you are an SME in operation for at least 2 years located in Northern Ontario, you may be eligible for these and other funding programs. Grants will only cover expenses not yet paid, and applications may take several months to process, so it is advisable to examine funding options as soon as project plans are formed.

If you would like to learn more about government funding opportunities, please contact Susan Clark at (416) 368-9341 x308 or email sclark@rdpassociates.com

www.rdpassociates.com | www.cycleofsuccess.ca

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R&D Tax Credit Tip

February 11th, 2014 — 1:08pm

ABORTIVE PROJECTS

Did you know a company can claim for an abortive project as long as the intention to carry out R&D was evident? This goes along with the adage that failed R&D projects can be claimed. However, in this case, sometimes projects do not extend beyond the planning stage.

As long as you can show the intent of an R&D project, abortive projects are eligible.

If you would like to learn more about this, please feel free to contact Brian Cookson at 0203 0048 303 or email bcookson@rdpassociates.com

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