Image to represent craft beer production

Where there’s a change there’s a claim

Making changes or enhancements can give you a competitive advantage, provide efficiencies, or even longer product life, but could it also qualify for Tax Relief?

Almost 20 years on and still so many businesses are only now realising R&D Tax Relief is something that they are able to harness, often for developing products and services which they thought was just part of what they do. Here are some recent examples of claims that we have completed, to give an overview of how broad this relief really is.

Food and drink:

  • A specialist beer brewer devising new brews and blends of beer. Technical challenges include the choice of ingredients and new tastes which have impacts on the beer’s shelf life, as well as accounting for health considerations, in particular allergies and intolerances.
  • Design and modification of coffee machines, both vending machines and for coffee shops. Specific projects included modifications to existing and established machine makes to achieve a number of improvements including faster brew cycles and feeding different kinds of disposable cups through (in particular cups made of more environmentally friendly materials).
  • Design of new snack product ranges – a high street coffee shop chain that needs to devise regular new taste ideas and follow the latest trends, with enhanced taste whilst overcoming issues of shelf life, allergies and intolerances, healthy eating considerations but overall still tasting good.
  • Design of small packets of, especially, alcoholic ingredients for cooking, with a view to avoiding wastage where there was previously a need to open a bottle of e.g. brandy which may then never be used again. Challenges revolve around getting the right amount of strength and flavour combinations in a small sachet for the right flavour “hit” for the particular dishes.

Construction and utilities:

  • A new method of laying mains services under roads – our client designed a machine and method for digging a trench, laying the pipe and reinstating the tarmac all in a single pass with a single machine. This has saved days of time at locations all over the country, reducing traffic disruption, increasing efficiency and saving cost.
  • Modification of boilers by service engineers in the field to enable them to accept parts from another manufacturer – saving the cost of replacing the entire boiler, with associated cost savings and environmental benefits.
  • Developing (and patenting) a means of securing excavators to trailers much more securely and safely than using traditional straps.

IT and software:

  • Use of advanced radar and infra-red technology for laser tag games along with the associated software programming.
  • Adapting digital marketing methods for new software releases from the likes of Google, or reacting to changes in their ranking rules – requiring constant rethinks of marketing or SEO strategy to keep ahead of the game, involving new programming and algorithms.
  • Design and integration of advanced ordering and accounting systems for a company selling hundreds, even thousands, of possible product combinations in gift hampers. This caters for a mixture of VAT rates, perishable products, weight and size for delivery considerations, all controlled through an advanced and constantly evolving system.
  • Computer modelling of rail signalling systems – changing signalling patterns and rules to maximise the number of trains that can pass through any given area whilst maintaining absolute safety.


  • Small batch manufacturing – we have several clients that carry out design and development work for small batch orders which the larger more advanced companies would not consider as they cannot complete such small assignments cost effectively. An example included recreating replacement parts for vintage steam locomotives where the original manufacturer has long since gone out of business, using modern materials and methods.
  • Modifying and improving farm trailer design, for example to increase the capacity of existing models by changing axle materials or using advanced geometry to increase road safety i.e. how far the rear swings out while turning a sharp corner.

The above examples barely scratch the surface in terms of how wide this relief can be. As always, the advice has to be to speak to a specialist to see if your business might qualify – with a strict two year time limit for making claims, you really might be leaving cash on the table.

If you have any specific questions, please contact James Geary, on 01242 776000 or email