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SR&ED vs CDAE: Everything You Need to Know

For innovators in Canada, investments in research and development (R&D) are vital; however, funding innovation often proves challenging, especially for growing companies with limited resources.

The Canadian and Provincial Governments have several programs to help propel investment in R&D in firms across the country. Among them are the Canada Revenue Agency’s Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit and Revenu Quebec’s Tax Credit for the Development of E-Business (TCBE), often referred to as “CDAE,” its French-language abbreviation.

We will explore the key similarities and differences between the two programs so that you can get a better idea of whether the programs are the right fit for your firm. Keep in mind that CDAE and SR&ED are not necessarily mutually exclusive—we will explore this later.

Nature of funding

Both the SR&ED and CDAE programs are tax credits.

A tax credit is an amount of money that a firm can subtract from the taxes they owe the CRA and their provincial agency or it can be a direct refund regardless of taxes paid or owing.

In the case of a refundable tax credit, a firm will receive a cash reimbursement at the end of the year, deducting any taxes due. Meanwhile, non-refundable tax credits are capped at the firm’s tax liability—even if the credit exceeds the owed taxes, the firm will not receive any additional reimbursements and the full value of the credit will not be used. Having said that, non-refundable tax credits can often be carried forward or back.

SR&ED is generally a refundable tax credit for Canadian-controlled Private Corporations (CCPCs). When claimed by non-CCPCs, the program generally offers a 15% non-refundable tax credit. On the other hand, CDAE offers a combination of refundable and non-refundable tax credits.

Eligibility Criteria

Eligible Firms

Most significantly, SR&ED supports firms across Canada, while CDAE only offers credits to firms in Quebec.

The CDAE requires that eligible companies are focused on developing and selling software licenses or services. Your company’s gross revenue must be at least 75% derived from IT sector activities; 50% of these activities must be related to a core subset of the IT sector, as defined here.

Additionally, to qualify for CDAE credits, your company must have at least 6 full-time, eligible technical employees for the entire fiscal year of the claim.

This minimum requirement is more flexible for startups that have existed for less than 2 years. For these firms are eligible once they have 6 eligible technical employees.

The SR&ED credit does not have revenue requirements, nor does it require a minimum number of employees.

Beyond the eligibility of the firm, there is a second level of eligibility for CDAE: the eligibility of employees and their salaries.

Eligible Activities

SR&ED supports R&D activities in any industry. R&D activities must demonstrate a systematic approach, an attempt at technological advancement, and technological uncertainty. As such, projects related to technology that have already been validated and for which there is readily accessible information cannot be claimed.

Contrarily, the CDAE covers innovation activities in E-business, SaaS, and B2B software companies. While CDAE’s revenue requirements are more restrictive, its eligible activities are less rigid and can include routine development.

It is important to note that CDAE does not cover programs that involve software that controls hardware or is built into hardware. As such, projects in the IoT or robotics are essentially ineligible because they involve software that controls mechanical elements.

Additionally, projects that rely on external data sets, such as AI or AI-adjacent projects, are ineligible for CDAE as well. To be eligible, data used in the project must be internally owned and generated—for instance, inventory data would be permitted under CDAE.

Interested in learning more about SR&ED Eligibility? Read our guide here.

Eligible Expenses and Amounts

Both tax credits cover salaries; however, they have different requirements and credit amounts.

CDAE covers only the salary of employees in technical roles—mostly front-end or back-end developers. The CDAE offers a refundable tax credit of up to 24% and a non-refundable tax credit of up to 6% of each eligible employee’s salary. These credits are applied to the total salary, regardless of the portion that is directly related to the CDAE activities.

Note, however, that the CDAE only covers salaries up to $83,333, meaning that firms can only receive up to $20,000 in refundable credit and up to $5,000 in a non-refundable credit per employee salary. There are no restrictions on the number of employees that can be covered by CDAE; however, a fee must be paid to Invest Quebec for each eligibility certificate requested.

Unlike CDAE, companies applying to SR&ED can only claim tax credits on expenses related to R&D activities—salaries, wages, materials consumed or transformed, subcontractor expenses, and overhead.

The SR&ED tax credit covers only the portion of employee salaries and subcontractor expenses that are related to the eligible R&D activities. In other words, the SR&ED refundable tax credit is based on the percentage of time spent on R&D activities relative to the employee’s salary. However, there is a tradeoff: this program also covers the salaries and wages of support employees, such as HR or payroll employees who specifically spend time recruiting engineers for the SR&ED project or handling payroll for project employees. This is known as indirect SR&ED and is claimed in different manners federal and provincially.

Note that unlike CDAE, SR&ED tax credits are not restricted by a maximum eligible salary amount for non-owners.

Application Process

The CDAE’s application process is done in two levels: first, you must apply to Invest Quebec within 15 months of the fiscal year-end in which the expenses were incurred to receive an eligibility certificate for each employee for which a tax credit is being requested. Then, you must submit an application to Revenue Quebec within 18 months of the same fiscal year. These CDAE applications automatically get reviewed—the process is standardized and systematic.

Meanwhile, SR&ED applications are only reviewed by the CRA and do not always get audited, but there should be at least a first-year visit.

SR&ED vs CDAE

So, we’ve discussed the two programs and their differences. Now, which one will be more beneficial to your firm?

CDAE can help firms that are more advanced and are looking to scale up. Many firms receive more SR&ED tax credits in the early days of their innovation projects, and then move towards increasing their CDAE funding amounts as SR&ED covers fewer of their activities.

Because routine development activities are covered under CDAE, firms that are looking to maintain or improve existing technology will benefit. Meanwhile, these activities are not covered under SR&ED.

CDAE is also more beneficial to large or foreign companies, since its tax credits are fixed, unlike SR&ED which offers lower, non-refundable credits to non-CCPC.

Stacking SR&ED and CDAE

If both programs seem like they’d benefit your firm, how do you choose which one to claim? There’s good news: it is possible to claim both SR&ED and CDAE.

A few options exist if you want to benefit from both programs. Claiming federal SR&ED tax credits and provincial CDAE tax credits is a great combination. It is also possible to optimize both CDAE and SR&ED on the provincial level to maximize the tax credit amount, but this is tricky.

If you like to learn more about how to stack SR&ED and CDAE or need some help, speak with our experts to find the best option for your firm’s specific needs.

Still Have Questions?

Read what our experts have to say in our SR&ED FAQ and CDAE FAQ articles.

If you’re considering submitting a CDAE claim or combining credits, don’t hesitate to contact R&D Partners at 1-800-500-7733 for more information or to schedule a meeting with one of our expert consultants.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to nor can it replace the evaluation of your specific SR&ED or e-business tax credit claim by a dedicated professional.

5 Funding Opportunities for Robotics & Advanced Manufacturing Companies

Advanced manufacturing is at the core of the Canadian economy—without it, creating better products and services and improving productivity would be difficult, if not impossible. Robotics, additive manufacturing, and big data analytics are key to developing innovative and efficient manufacturing processes. 

Canada has been seriously investing in robots since the 1990s. According to Statistics Canada, Canadian firms were using over $1.5 billion worth of robots by 2017. The majority of this technology was used in manufacturing. Invest in Canada reports that the manufacturing industry contributed to 9.5% of the Canadian GDP in 2021. 

However, there are still many efforts to make greater strides in the industry and to increase Canada’s competitiveness and global prominence in the development of cutting-edge technologies. Several not-for-profits and government agencies across Canada have programs and initiatives that promote the advancement of the manufacturing industry.  

Below are some key sponsors interested in fueling robotics and manufacturing innovation, as well as several major programs to look out for. 

NGen  

In 2018, the Government of Canada established five Innovation Superclusters, each representing a key industry sector in the Canadian economy: artificial intelligence, digital technology, plant protein development, marine technology, and advanced manufacturing. This initiative exists to foster innovation, collaboration between researchers and the private sector, and job creation, ultimately, strengthening Canada’s competitive edge in emerging technologies.  

Next Generation Manufacturing Canada, or NGen, is the not-for-profit organization spearheading Canada’s Innovation Cluster for Advanced Manufacturing. NGen strives to build world-leading advanced manufacturing capabilities in Canada, delivering better products and creating more jobs. As of October 2022, NGen has supported 167 projects, with a total value of $605M, and has helped create 1,030 jobs.   

NGen’s Pilot Projects & Feasibility Studies support collaborative projects, involving at least one Canadian SME and a partner organization, that seek to implement, develop, and/or de-risk the adoption of an advanced manufacturing technology or process.  

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada  

Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) is a department of the federal government with a mandate to build a competitive, growing Canadian economy. Through a variety of funds and programs, ISED fosters trade and investment, promotes science and innovation, and supports enterprise growth.   

One such initiative is the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF). This fund’s Business Innovation and Growth streams promote research and development projects that will accelerate the implementation and commercialization of innovative products, processes and services. The Collaborations and Networks streams support research and development through industry collaboration between private sector organizations, not-for-profits, and researchers. The SIF strengthens the competitive advantage of Canadian industries through technological advancement and collaboration.  

Funding opportunities for Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing firms also exist through ISED’s Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) program. ISC is a competitive research and development program stream that seeks pre-commercial innovations that respond to challenges issued by federal departments or agencies. These challenges are updated frequently and require high-tech solutions in various industries. Past challenges have included a call for prototypes in autonomous systems and robotics and request for proximity sensor systems for space robotics.  

The National Research Council of Canada 

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is the country’s largest federal research and development organization. The NRC partners with Canadian industry to bring innovation from lab to market, collaborating with over 1,000 companies each year. 

The NRC is best known for its Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), an initiative that helps Canadian SMEs develop and adopt new technologies, conduct research and development, and drive business growth through financial assistance, advisory services, and networking. In 2018-2019, IRAP increased its funding limit to $10 million; however, assistance typically ranges from $50,000 to $500,000.  

Quebec’s Innovation Program 

In Quebec, the Innovation Program supports innovation projects that are either conducted in-province or with partners in other provinces or countries. This government initiative, funded by the Quebec Ministery of Economy, Innovation and Energy (MEI), is administered by Investissement Québec, a business development corporation that aims to help businesses establish subsidiaries in Quebec and to strengthen the Quebec business ecosystem.  

The program has two components: Support for Innovation Projects and Support for Mobilizing Projects. Both support for-profit corporations and groups of corporations, and social economy organizations including cooperatives and not-for-profit organizations. For robotics and advanced manufacturing organizations that thrive off of efficiency and cutting-edge technologies, the first component offers funding for the development or improvement of a product or process. Applicants must demonstrate a need for new innovation and for research and development efforts, and show a potential for commercializing the innovation. 

Business Scale-up and Productivity Program 

The Business Scale-up and Productivity (BSP) program helps high-growth firms adopt and commercialize leading-edge technologies and processes in advanced manufacturing, clean resources and technology, digital industries, health sciences, natural resources value-added processing, ocean technology, and value-added agriculture. The program accepts applications on an ongoing basis with no submission deadlines. 

The BSP program operates across Canada under different Federal Economic Development Agencies. In Quebec, the program is led by Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) and offers SMEs interest-free, repayable contributions equivalent to up to 50% of eligible project costs. It focuses on firms operating in manufacturing, food processing, information, communications and multimedia technologies, and life sciences, but other sectors may also be eligible. 

The FedNor BSP program, which operates in Northern Ontario, offers the same.  

The FedDev Ontario BSP program provides between $500,000 and $10 million in interest-free, repayable contributions supporting up to 35% of eligible project costs. 

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency BSP program serves businesses in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island, offering unsecured, interest-free, repayable contributions. Additional funding may be available to Indigenous businesses. 

Finally, the PrairiesCan BSP serves Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan and funds up to 50% of eligible project costs, offering interest-free repayable contributions between $200,000 and $5 million. Preference will be given to applicants that are operating in food and ingredients processing, zero-emission heavy equipment vehicles, and critical minerals processing. 

How R&D Partners Can Help 

If you have any questions about the above programs or other funding opportunities, please reach out to Veronica Campbell at vcampbell@partenairesrd.com. 

Changes to the Tax Holiday Program for Foreign Researchers and Foreign Experts

The Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI) recently announced changes to the eligibility criteria for the Tax Holiday Program for Foreign Researchers (FR) and Foreign Experts (FE). This program is designed to facilitate the recruitment of foreign researchers or foreign experts capable of aiding in the commercialization of innovation activities or the advancement of technology, respectively, within private companies in Quebec. Quebec companies remain competitive by attracting highly qualified researchers/experts to perform scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED).

What’s New?

1. The tax holiday is applicable as of the date of hire on contract.

The tax holiday is now based on the hiring date and the number of months that pass after this date, rather than in calendar years following the year in which the hiring date fell – making it much more beneficial.  If a candidate is hired October 9, 2021, the tax holiday begins on October 9, 2021, and lasts for 60 months, i.e., October 9, 2026.

2. Applications must be submitted prior to moving to Quebec.

The rules also state that candidates now need to apply before their arrival to Québec. This means that employers should apply prior to the candidate’s hiring date and arrival into Québec. Those who are already in Québec and that have not yet applied should move forward with applications as soon as possible to avoid any issues. These changes are on-going and may be further refined in the next couple months.

3. The comparative evaluation requirement has been updated.

Previously, the approval of the tax holiday depended on the receipt of the comparative evaluation certificate. Going forward, the comparative evaluation may not be required for approval. However, it may be requested during the review process on a case-by-case basis; it is therefore recommended to apply in advance to minimize the processing time as the comparative evaluation issuance process is the longest part.

One of the following documents must now be submitted with the tax holiday application:

  1. Copies of post-secondary diplomas with a list of courses taken for each diploma and a certified copy of the applicant’s last relevant diploma, OR;
  2. Comparative evaluation of studies completed outside Quebec issued by the Ministry of Immigration, Francisation and Integration (MIFI) and sent directly to MEI

4. No annual renewal is required for FRs, but it is still required for FEs.

Foreign researchers only need to submit one application to receive the full tax holiday, no longer needing to submit annual follow-ups. For foreign experts, annual renewal applications are still required for the five-year duration of the tax holiday. Once the initial expert certificate has been issued and the candidate is employed in Québec, the employer must submit an annual application for the expert certificate annually before March 1 of the calendar year following the tax year for which the applicant is taking the tax holiday.

Additional information on the comparative evaluation

Along with the comparative evaluation document, the candidate should include certified copies of all post-secondary diplomas they wish to have evaluated by the Ministry, noting that the minimum education requirement for the tax holiday is a graduate degree for foreign researchers and a first cycle university degree (bachelor’s) for foreign experts. If you would like to learn more about the tax holiday program requirements, please read our previous article.

To find recognized authorities to certify your degree as a true copy please see the List of authorities recognized by the Ministère for certifying documents. It explains how to obtain a certified copy of your diploma depending on the country or territory where your documents were issued. A copy certified by the issuer of the document (your university) is always the preferred format.

Further reading

If you have any questions about the Tax Holiday Program that this blog post left unanswered, or if you are considering submitting a claim, don’t hesitate to contact our team at:  1-800-500-7733, ext.102.

 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to nor can it replace the evaluation of your specific tax credit claim by a dedicated consultant.

Funding Opportunities for Sustainable and Connected Vehicles Innovation

As one of the world’s leading vehicle manufacturing regions, Canada makes significant efforts to remain on the cutting edge of innovative automotive technologies.  

Canada leverages its innovation clusters and new ideas that emerge from startups, national, and international firms in Canada to revolutionize transportation and automotive technologies. The areas of focus include quantum technologies, AI, clean technologies, and advanced manufacturing. 

Several government agencies and not-for-profits across Canada focus on advancing greener transportation technologies, while others offer incentives that aid in the growth and development of automotive innovations.  

Below are some key sponsors interested in connected, sustainable, and autonomous vehicles in Quebec and Ontario that one should keep in mind when looking for funding. Within each funding program sponsor, we will highlight the flagship program(s) and sought benefits.  

Quebec
  

Quebec Ministry of Economy and Innovation (MEI) 

The Quebec Ministry of Economy and Innovation offers funding programs and partners with other sponsors to further accelerate scientific and technological advancements in Quebec. The Ministry emphasizes the importance of research and innovation and assists organizations dedicated to the promotion, development, and transfer of research and innovation.  

Call for Proposals in the Demonstration of Sustainable Transport Technologies  

This call for proposals plans to offer $6.5 million in grants over a five-year period to support SMEs within Quebec to carry out demonstration projects that showcase their land transport and sustainable mobility technologies.  

Eligible projects must develop a new product or process that has a significant advantage over existing solutions – or significantly improves current products and processes – and be undertaken in collaboration with a city or transportation company within Quebec. 

The grants offered through this program can subsidize up to 50% of project costs – up to a total contribution of $350,000 – and eligible projects may be no longer than 18 months in duration. 

Program details are currently only available in French, and the next deadline to apply is November 17th, 2021.  

This specific call for proposals is also part of the Quebec government’s larger Sustainable Mobility Policy for 2018-2030 (in French only).  

Ontario

Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) 

The Ontario provincial government has dedicated significant resources to the development of the automotive industry, specifically for innovations related to autonomous vehicles.  

Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network is dedicated to developing the economic potential of automotive and smart mobility innovations with the potential to radically change transportation methods and the related infrastructure.  

Through AVIN and the larger “Driving Prosperity” initiative, the Government of Ontario has dedicated $85 million to help Ontario SMEs develop, test, and commercialize mobility technologies for the future. This funding broadly supports research and development, talent acquisition, innovative initiatives, and more.  

AVIN directly offers several funding and support programs, but also partners with other organizations within Ontario to deliver targeted support for specific projects.  

AV Research and Development (R&D) Partnership Fund 

This program is divided into two streams and offers co-investment opportunities of up to 33.3% of project costs. Stream 1 offers up to $100,000 in total funding, while Stream 2 can offer a maximum of $1 million, as well as includes costs for hiring an intern as part of the project.  

Both streams are intended for projects developing connected and autonomous vehicles technology beyond the feasibility study stage and require the collaboration of at least one lead applicant and a partner. Ontario SMEs, Canadian or foreign corporations, municipalities, indigenous communities, not-for-profits, and post-secondary institutions are eligible applicants or partners for both streams. Publicly funded post-secondary institutions cannot act as the lead applicant for stream 2.  

AVIN Waterloo Ventures 

AVIN funds this program in partnership with Communitech and other partners. It is specifically designed to fund innovations in the fields of self-healing and high-definition maps that facilitate mobility.  

This program is intended for Ontario startups and scale-ups (500 employees or less) and offers grants of up to $50,000 to selected applicants. In addition to grant funding, the program also offers expert support and coaching to facilitate the development of a working prototype or improve the product in order to create additional market traction.  

Canada Wide
 

Sustainable Development Technologies Canada (SDTC) 

This National Canadian foundation was created by the federal government to help foster the growth of the clean technologies sector in Canada and promote environmental sustainability. Since its inception in 2001, SDTC has injected nearly $1.4 billion into 460 Canadian clean technologies companies and helped create over 16,000 jobs nationwide. 

Clean Tech Fund  

This fund provides grant financing to develop promising clean technology development and demonstration projects led by start-ups or scale-ups. The technology itself must be beyond the proof-of-concept stage, but not yet commercialized. The technology must also demonstrate a potential for GHG emissions reductions, reductions in water consumption and/or the reduction of water, soil or air contamination levels. The project must have demonstrated environmental and economic benefits for Canadians. These grants can subsidize up to $4 million or 40% of eligible project costs, with an average contribution of $3 million. 

The Clean Tech Fund’s portfolio of funded companies currently includes sectors ranging from agriculture and forestry to power generation and transportation. In the transportation sector, current accepted projects are also varied and show the wide range of the applications of new technologies to make the automotive and transportation sectors more sustainable: projects related to lithium-ion batteries, fleet management and route planning solutions, hybrid heavy vehicles and motion sensors for autonomous vehicles all qualified for the program!  

Applications for this program are accepted on a rolling basis, with five approval rounds per year. 

How R&D Partners can help   

If you have any questions about the programs we mentioned above, do not hesitate to contact Dominik Klein at dklein@rdpartners.com, or at 1-800-500-7733 ext. 103 

 

COVID-19 Funding and SRED: Best Practices for Canadian Companies

Over the past few months, we’ve seen various levels of government create many new funding programs for Canadian companies that were hit hard by COVID-19 or the necessary lockdown measures. This has affected nearly every industry, from the biggest industrial manufacturers to our favourite local restaurants and independent coffee shops. However, receiving this funding is not the end of the journey. For many innovative Canadian firms, getting ready to file a SRED claim for 2020, the influx of government subsidies and other supports brings confusion about how these funding programs interact with the SRED claim.

As a general rule, any government funding that a company receives and that goes towards their R&D expenditures must be deducted from the amount they include in their SRED claims. This is to avoid what is commonly called “double-dipping”, which happens when the same expenses are covered by two or more different sources of government aid. Moreover, stacking rules as specified by each funding program must also be adhered to. As your company prepares its SRED claims, forgetting to deduct non-repayable COVID-19 pandemic support from your SRED-eligible expenses could end up costing you time and money, especially if an audit is conducted. Below, you will find important information about two of the most important Federal Government coronavirus relief programs and how they may interact with your SRED claims:

1. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

This wage subsidy has already seen a few different iterations in its short existence. This corner stone of the federal COVID-19 support strategy has distributed over $60 billion to Canadian companies to date and will continue to approve applications until at least June 2021.

You may have accessed the full 75% wage subsidy in its early months, and then, depending on your industry and how much it was affected by COVID-19, seen your subsidy rate go up or down with the introduction of the base and top-up subsidies system that allowed some businesses to cover up to 85% of their eligible salaries.

When it comes to R&D expenditures, the principle of how to treat the CEWS funds remains the same, regardless of the claim month and exactly which proportion of your employees’ salaries was subsidized. However, individual calculations will vary greatly. You will need to keep a few key things in mind:

  • You only need to deduct the amounts of the wage subsidy that apply to employees that are actively engaged in research and development activities; and
  • You only need to deduct the amounts of the wage subsidy that are proportionate to the amount of time your employee actually spent on research and development activities in a given month.

Here is a practical example: Let’s consider a company that has 10 employees and benefited from a 75% wage subsidy from CEWS in April 2020. Each employee’s salary amounts to $1,000 a month, bringing the total CEWS amount the company benefited from for April to $7,500.

10×(0.75×$1,000)=$7,500

However, that month, only three employees spent time on research and development activities the company can include in their SRED claim. Therefore, only $2,250 would need to be deducted from eligible SRED expenses at most, and that is if all three employees spent 100% of their time on eligible R&D activities that month.

3×(0.75×$1,000)=$2,250

Say two of these three R&D employees spent 50% of their time that month on eligible activities, with the last spending 75% of their time on eligible SRED work. For our first two, you would only need to deduct $375 each, and for our last eligible employee $562.5.

50%×(0.75×$1,000)=$375

75%×(0.75×$1,000)=$562.50

(2×$375)+$562.50=$1,312.50

In total, you would have to deduct a total of $1,312.5 from April expenses from your total SRED claim to account for the monies received from CEWS that month and avoid any double dipping. Repeat this process for every month you received CEWS and conducted eligible R&D. This will give you the total amount you need to deduct from your claim for the financial year. Do not forget that your CEWS rate will vary from month to month and make sure to adapt your calculations accordingly.

(2×$375)+$562.5=$1,312.50

2. Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

This program was initially introduced as a $40,000 interest-free loan with the possibility of up to $10,000 of that loan amount being forgiven if the remainder is repaid by December 31, 2022. On December 4, 2020, the total loan amount was increased to $60,000, with now $20,000 eligible for complete loan forgiveness.

While it is officially a government loan administered by various local financial institutions across Canada, the potentially non-repayable portion of CEBA should generally be treated like a grant at this time for tax accounting and purposes (this can be reversed if the loan is not repaid on time and the grant portion is thus lost). This grant portion is a form of government funding that should be deducted in the year it is expected to be received and could impact other government funding. The R&D tax credit expenditures are reduced by government aid that is associated with R&D activities and this may include both grants and loans with “noncommercial” terms, as long as the government aid is directly associated with these R&D expenditures.

The important element to keep in mind with respect to interaction of financial aid and the SRED tax credit program is that any government or non-government aid your business benefited from that is directly associated with the SRED expenditures must be taken into account. Complex and often competing stacking rules for each program must be considered as well. This includes the programs mentioned above and the many other COVID-19 and other government incentives, even if we did not specifically mention them in this short overview.

How R&D Partners can help:

If you have any questions about SRED or COVID-19-related government funding, or if you are considering submitting a SRED claim, do not hesitate to contact me, Mike Lee, at R&D Partners:

1-800-500-7733, 110

mlee@rdpartners.com

Determining SR&ED Eligibility by Industry and Project Type

Introduction:

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ibis World predicted that, over the next five years, the engineering services industry in Canada would begin to grow once more, having contracted following a drop in the price of crude oil in 2015. The field of biotechnology was similarly expected to expand. Though government assistance programs will help offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s unlikely that either industry will meet their original projections. Nevertheless, programs like SRED still exist to support activities within these industries, provided businesses know how to claim them.

Resources that describe general SR&ED eligibility criteria are abundant, but it is more difficult to find information related to specific industries or project types. For example, if you are in the aerospace industry and qualification testing takes up most of your fiscal period, how eligible is this activity? In this simple guide, we break down some key concepts and questions that may help you discern between eligible and non-eligible activities in certain industries.

 

Aerospace:

Often, the recipe for R&D and technology uncertainty in the aerospace industry comes from the fact that the field is stringent, regulated, and competitive . Technological objectives are constantly changing and becoming increasingly challenging to meet. Further, these objectives are often competing (e.g., reduced costs with increased performance) and demand experimental development to determine whether or not they can be met.

If your project is fairly mature and undergoing various rounds of certification testing, determining eligibility can be trickier. However, it is also worth noting that uncertainties can often be rooted in the sensitive nature of engineered goods and services being directly utilized by humans with serious safety implications. In the aerospace industry, durability and safety are typically expressed and certified under the following terms: 1) airworthiness (flight has been certified to be operative in air with passengers) and 2) flight availability (expressed as the probability of a fault occurring every flight hour, which must meet federal standards). As such, if there are uncertainties related to flight performance and safety that have yet to be understood and resolved, SR&ED continues, and related project activities could be eligible.

If you are able to answer “yes” to any of the following questions about your project, then related activities could be SR&ED eligible:

– Are there remaining tests required to prove the flight availability of your newly developed aerospace component (e.g., engine control software) in several flight and environmental scenarios?

– Is there still technological uncertainty that requires experimentation to determine whether objectives defined at the outset can be achieved?

– Are you still learning about interactions between control laws and flight performance in various flight maneuvers and environmental scenarios?

In addition to these scenarios, unexpected failures may arise during any stage of development and certification, necessitating further experimental investigation and SR&ED eligible activities.

Electrical Engineering, Electronics, & Control Systems:

Many widely-known theoretical tools have been established to explain and model phenomena in the areas of electronics, control systems, and electrical engineering . However, novel application of these theoretical tools in various devices and contexts may uncover complexities that necessitate experimental development, as modeling tools alone cannot accurately predict outcomes. What’s more, certain modeling efforts may be too computationally intensive, implying large costs and extensive development times. From these limitations, an opportunity for SR&ED occasionally arises as newer algorithms and modeling methodologies are developed, or as assumptions are made that must be experimentally evaluated. When developing new material systems and structures for semiconductor devices, antennas, and flexible transmission lines, for example, and subjecting these to uncommon signal frequencies and extreme environmental conditions, characterization activities that attempt to fill in gaps in the available knowledgebase could be eligible.

If you answer “yes” to any of the questions below, you could recover some of your R&D costs through funding programs like SR&ED.

– Are you developing new tools and algorithms to model otherwise complex and computationally exhaustive phenomena?

– Are you attempting to advance the state-of-the-art in microwave theory, signal processing, or non-linear control theory?

– Are you exploring new materials, processes, and leveraging quantum and electromagnetic theories to build next-generation semiconductor devices?

– Have you presented the theoretical basis to your current development at an IEEE conference?

– Does your project also add new knowledge to the fields of sensing, physics, chemistry, or signal processing?

 

Biomedical & Pharmaceutical Sciences:

Drug development and medical device development can be an expensive, multi-year process, but the good news is that many of these costs can be offset by several government-backed funding programs in Canada. From a SR&ED point of view, research and development in the life science sector is eligible on many fronts, compared to other technological sectors. For example, it is often clear what the established state-of-the-art is due to a vast collection of up-to-date publications concerning syntheses and clinical trials, the systematic, scientific approach demanded by SR&ED, and the uncertainty at different stages of development related to the efficacy, safety, and performance of chemical compounds and devices that interact with the human body. Given this, if you answer “yes” to the following questions, you’re likely eligible for SRED:

– Are you developing chemical compounds that interact with the human body?

– Are you dealing with scalability issues in large-scale synthesis?

– Are you building in vivo medical devices?

 

AI/Machine Learning:

Growth in the AI/Machine Learning industry has been rapid and widespread over the past few years. Accordingly, research institutions and industries alike that leverage AI/Machine Learning continue to be rewarded with lucrative funding opportunities. Naturally, the competition for securing these funds is also growing, and the bar continues to rise, especially where SR&ED eligibility is concerned. Nonetheless, if you are advancing the field of AI/Machine Learning or utilizing it to supplement your products or processes, we identified a few questions below that may help you better understand how eligible your AI/Machine Learning based project may be. If you answer “yes” to any or all of these questions, your projects are likely eligible:

– Would some of your work be potentially publishable in top-tier conferences in machine learning or directly advances a specific machine learning topic from a published resource?

– Are you dealing with strict performance requirements that, for example, encourage you to develop scalable and untested models and algorithms that can work with less data?

– Would your AI efforts and advancements impact another field of science like biology, chemistry, or agriculture?

 

Manufacturing:

Though SRED eligibility may be less common where traditional manufacturing is concerned, opportunities could arise when significant improvements to a product or existing process are sought, especially if artificial intelligence or advanced 3D printing can be leveraged.

If you answer “yes” to any or all of these questions, your manufacturing projects may be eligible:

– Are you attempting to increase production efficiency or adhere to more strict environmental regulations by applying technologies or materials that would not be conventionally used for your application?

– Additionally, does this require extensive experimental iterations?

– Are you adding new knowledge to other fields of science and technology, for example, processing advanced thermoplastics?

 

Conclusion:

It is important to examine both the experimental tasks and industry in which they are being undertaken to evaluate the eligibility and risk of a potential SR&ED project. Certain industries lend themselves well to SRED claims, while others are less obvious and more problematic. Having said that, we have successfully claimed SRED in some of the most unlikely industries, and there are a number of elements that can be incorporated into the process of filing a claim that will increase its chance of success. Please reach out to us if we can help you navigate the eligibility of a potential claim and ensure that all the possible steps are taken to maximize it and reduce the related risk.