An essential cog in the wheel of high-tech economy, the field of advanced materials research and development (R&D) plays a crucial role in driving progress and life-changing innovation across various industries.
From aerospace to biomedicine, advanced materials offer greater strength, durability, flexibility, and functionality, paving the way for new, transformative technologies, products and applications.
With the ability to convert ideas into reality, developing the advanced materials of today contributes to the groundbreaking solutions that will improve all our lives tomorrow.
In this blog post, we explore the importance of advanced materials R&D, the available funding opportunities, and uncover some of the recent breakthroughs.
The term advanced materials refers to a broad range of materials with enhanced properties that have been designed to future-proof sectors.
Some examples of advanced materials include:
The engineering of advanced materials supports a myriad of industries, from transport and utilities to energy, electronics and healthcare.
Designing and engineering is in our DNA: the earliest species of human, our ancestors, created objects and tools from materials they found around them, such as stone, bronze, clay and bone. Fast forward several thousands of years and we reach the 20th century when the development of advanced materials originated after the discovery of atoms.
Researching how atoms worked and behaved allowed scientists and engineers to experiment with the merging of different atoms to design and create new materials from scratch. These are now referred to as advanced materials.
Investing in developing the super-materials of the future allows for the continuing creation of revolutionary solutions spanning multiple sectors. This, in turn, boosts the economy and maintains the UK’s standing as a world-leader in advanced materials.
In November 2022, the UK government announced £95 million funding to support R&D of advanced materials. The Henry Royce Institute is renowned for its advanced materials research, which includes projects where waste materials have been turned into sustainable plastics and 3D bioprinting for healthcare uses such as tissue engineering in regenerative medicine. The Institute will use the funding to support and advance early-stage research in these materials.
Materials science is all about understanding the properties and behaviour of different materials, and finding ways to modify or enhance them for specific purposes. This can involve anything from developing new alloys, ceramics, or polymers, to designing materials at the nanoscale level. The benefits of materials R&D are numerous, including:
If a company is developing materials with exceptional properties for engineering applications, or developing a new technology that creates these innovative materials, then R&D is likely involved as it attempts to make an industry advancement.
Here are some examples of R&D in advanced materials:
The materials field is constantly evolving, with researchers making breakthroughs every day. Here are some recent examples of exciting advances in materials R&D:
There are various forms of innovation funding available to enable advanced materials R&D to take place, including grant funding and tax relief.
Grants, usually non-repayable, are awarded by funding bodies prior to any innovation taking place, whilst tax relief is a retrospective incentive, claimable after the accounting period in which the R&D took place.
Any business that’s investing time and resources into innovative R&D in the UK can apply for and access UK/EU grant funding.
The patent box is a government tax relief scheme that rewards companies for investing in innovation. If a company is making a profit on patented inventions, it’s eligible for a lower effective corporation tax rate of 10% on relevant profits.
What’s more, if a company is eligible for the patent box tax relief regime, it’s likely that it’s also eligible for R&D tax relief.
Research & Development (R&D) tax relief
HMRC’s R&D tax relief scheme rewards businesses that are seeking an advance within their industry.
R&D tax credits can be claimed by businesses that are developing new systems, products or processes, or modifying existing ones, which in turn create a scientific or technological advancement.
By investing in materials science, we can create new solutions, improve efficiency, and promote sustainability. With exciting breakthroughs and new possibilities on the horizon, the future of materials R&D looks promising.
Catax’s award-winning team of innovation funding specialists support companies on their innovation journey to achieve the funding they need to develop the advanced materials that will contribute to the revolutionary products, services and engineered solutions that will improve all our lives.
Mehul is a published scientist and engineer with a Doctorate in materials science, having worked in the aerospace, automotive, defence and mass-transit application spaces. He has worked on the development of several leading-edge materials technologies such as cementing chemistries for immobilisation of nuclear wastes and the industrial scaleup of manufacturing technologies for graphene.
He has worked across large multi-disciplinary teams on flagship R&D projects with leading academics and industrialists and has been successful in accelerating projects through technology readiness levels to industrial commercialisation.
Mehul leads a team of Specialist Tax Consultants across the country who are experts in identifying and claiming innovation incentives, including R&D tax reliefs, R&D allowances, and patent box, with specialisms in engineering (automotive, materials, civil, software, electronic and chemical), and construction.
To harness the full potential of your advanced materials, please fill in the form below and one of our specialists will be in touch.