Research and Development - R&D
The Innovation Strategy hopes to encourage more Research and Development (R&D) in the islands as it can be considered very beneficial for economies, i.e. businesses and customers. R&D consists of investing in activities that a business chooses to conduct with the intention of unearthing a discovery that can either lead to the development of new products or services, or to improvement of their existing products or services. R&D is one of the means by which business can experience future growth by developing new products or services to improve and expand their operations, all based on fulfilling their customer’s needs.
While R&D is often thought of as synonymous with technology firms that are on the cutting edge of new technology, many established companies spend large sums of money on improving other products i.e. Gillette spends millions on R&D each year in on-going attempts to design a more effective shaver. On average, most companies spend only a small percentage of their revenue on R&D, usually under 5%. However, pharmaceuticals, software and automotive companies tend to spend quite a bit more, for example Volkswagen has been at the top of the 20 biggest spenders in R&D for the past 4 years.
One of the biggest developments in the technology industry in recent years is Virtual Reality or VR, which was a concept dreamt up in science fiction novels. With the advance of new technology and R&D, with the imagination of people, has led to this concept becoming a reality. The biggest name in VR and the most well-known at the moment is Oculus VR, there latest product after years of testing and development is the Oculus Rift. The product was released in late March 2016 and has begun the new trend of building VR compatibility into other products.
It is the next big development for the Technology industry, its compatibility isn’t just with gaming, it is currently used for training purposes, such as the Air Force using Flight Simulators to train the latest pilots and it is even used to train doctors in new medical procedures. This technology can be used in architectural design, even as far as urban design, this means an entire urban environment can be built and tested before it even leaves the drawing board. The possibilities with this technology could have massive benefits for the world.
But this technology is only a possibility now because of R&D, which was started in one form or another, over 50 years ago. Morton Heilig built what he called the Sensorama in 1962; his “Experience Theatre” is a device that interacts with all the senses that showed 5 short films, this predated digital computing. This was the start that has taken what was a work of fiction to what is now an actuality and commercially viable. The Oculus Rift is just the beginning, more and more companies are announcing that they will be releasing their own version of VR Technology soon.
Progress can only be made through the use of R&D, but sometimes companies develop their products or services and then intend to continue selling them indefinitely. Change and development is important for older products as much as the new, if this wasn’t true we would never innovate. For example if Ford never tried to develop the model T product, because it was very successful, Ford would not be one of the world’s largest motoring companies.
At the end of the day the entire point of R&D is to create a new competitive advantage, something that puts your business ahead. Pharmaceutical companies’ pour millions into brand new processes in the hope that one might led to a new discovery. But small companies that don’t have the capital to spend on R&D can find other ways to conduct research. Government and EU funding is now available for small and medium size enterprises to conduct their own R&D. Even venture capitalists have recognised the importance of R&D, but their funding usually goes towards the more risky investments with higher steaks.
Finally, do not forget that whilst R&D is typically conducted internally, businesses can take advantage of public resources and eternal knowledge. At the end of the day, useful knowledge is the most important thing your company needs. R&D departments are worthless without knowledge and a goal. The knowledge that a business is after can often be purchased through acquisitions, patents, hiring employees, etc.
In conclusion, R&D is a very important tool that has helped develop the world to where it is now. Businesses need R&D to evolve, to push the boundaries, things that were impossible are now becoming a reality and that strive to find and do the impossible is a very human thing to do. Considering the major things we as a species have achieved, such as learned to fly, traveling continents in hours instead of days, landing on the moon, satellites orbiting the earth 24 hours a day, and the development of the internet with vast wealth of knowledge now at people’s fingertips. This very article is being read from products that have all gone through R&D, you could say that our life as we know it has been built from Research and Development.