Your trusted adviser for R&D Tax Credits and R&D Grants

How To Build An R&D Department On A Budget

Not all companies have huge R&D budgets - so make yours count when it comes to setting up a star R&D team.

Barrie Dowsett

Chief Executive Officer


5 minute read

Quality over quantity

When it comes to designing a brand new product, process or service - or upgrading something already in existence, then research and development in some form is crucial. And this often involves a company setting up and running an effective R&D department.

R&D is an important way in which a company can remain competitive in its market and achieve future growth. Money will need to be spent on designing and testing, as well as in creating new ways of doing things. Although R&D departments tend to be separate from more outward looking sections such as sales and marketing, they’re actually closely related.

When many people think of research and development they often think of the pharmaceutical sector or large tech firms. But actually R&D is all around, even in the smallest, newest business - wherever there has been something newly created, or improvements made, then R&D was probably in there somewhere.

What is the role of an R&D department?

An R&D department’s main role is to maintain the company’s competitiveness. This means watching to see what the markets and the competition is doing, and to facilitate growth. Additionally, competent R&D teams can help in guiding the business into the future, providing essential support in strategic decision-making.

The wealth of knowledge that is brought about by research and development can be extremely valuable in enhancing products or services or in developing new product lines. Managing an effective R&D department means investing in future capabilities and technology, transforming them into the products, processes and services yet to come.

We know that not all companies have massive budgets, and particularly in these challenging times every penny counts. So how do you find the people you need for your R&D department, and what are the most wallet-friendly ways to encourage them? Here we take a look.

1. Save money by clearly defining your goals

The first thing to do is define (and communicate) the goals of your company and create an R&D team around them. Make sure these goals are specific wherever possible, and fuel your team’s creativity by getting them invested in the company’s overall mission. A lack of goals can mean wasting money by heading off in the wrong direction.

When outlining your goals, make sure there are both long-term as well as short-term objectives. Payback from short-term goals (three to six months) is likely to be more immediate, whilst the results of longer-term goals may not be seen for a year or more. But remember, managing these goals is absolutely vital to the department’s success.

2. Employ the best people

Innovative, creative individuals come from all walks of life. Scientists and researchers may be essential ingredients in your new R&D departments, but they’re not the be all and end all. Often it’s more entry level staff and even students that come brimming with ideas and who are more willing to push limits. They’re also more likely to be free thinkers who aren’t so keen on strict production requirements. Frankly they tend to cost less to employ too.

3. Make sure your deadlines are flexible

This one’s a bit of an anomaly as flexible deadlines aren’t always budget-friendly. But it’s an important one so we thought we’d mention it anyway, as it’s certainly important to consider.

The fact is, research, designing and testing new products and services takes time. So don’t be too strict with deadlines (within reason) as innovators need to be given the time and space to, well, innovate. Tight deadlines can often lead to inferior products and an unhappy R&D team - not great, and potentially expensive in recruitment costs if people keep leaving.

4. Get the culture right

When building a strong R&D team, be smart with who you choose. It’s just as important to take on people who will fit into the company culture, and not just pick people who have the right skills and qualifications. After all, it’s easier to teach somebody a particular technical skill than it is to teach them how to be a team player. Also, a poor hire can be expensive in terms of training costs, pensions and any redundancy pay. So be careful who you take on - you really want them to fit in and stay.

5. Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate!

Your new R&D department should be encouraged to seek answers from other sources, and take the chance to network where possible. This is because R&D departments can gain essential knowledge by working with other researchers (plus it’s a great way to ‘grow’ your team without the cost of actually taking on more staff). As a company, this collaboration also gives you access to even more expertise, and by pooling ideas and resources there’s the chance to save precious cash.

Take advice from the R&D experts

The team at Myriad Associates based in Dublin will be pleased to offer any advice you may need when setting up your new R&D department, particularly if you’re on a budget. We’ll also be able to look at the R&D work you’ve got planned and identify any opportunities for additional funding, for example through R&D grants and R&D Tax Credits.

The fact is that innovative research and development work can be incredibly expensive, but the government has long encouraged innovative projects via a number of supports. Working out which ones apply to your business and your project isn’t always easy though, and the application process itself is complex. However, we can help you gain the innovation funding you need - quickly, professionally and hassle-free.

See our R&D Tax Credits and R&D grants pages for more information.

Contact us

To discuss anything we’ve address in this article, please do get in touch with our friendly R&D experts. Having been in business for nearly two decades, there’s very little our team of R&D accountants, specialists and advisors haven’t heard before. This means we’re in the best position to advise you, and our fast, professional service is second to none.

Please do feel free to call us on +353 1 566 2001 or send us a message and we'll call you back.

Related articles

Get in touch

Please contact us to discuss how working with Myriad Associates can maximise and secure R&D funding opportunities for your business.

Contact us