SR&ED: A Brief Explanation

David Tung
| 10/26/2023

The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program is a significant, impactful initiative in Canada, serving as a catalyst for research, development, and innovation. Established by the Canadian government, SR&ED provides valuable monetary incentives to businesses that engage in scientific research and experimental development activities. 

In this article, Crowe MacKay's SR&ED experts provide an overview on what SR&ED is, it’s objectives, how to qualify, and it’s benefits. If you require assistance in researching or applying for a program, connect with us in Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, or the Yukon.

What is SR&ED?

SR&ED stands for "Scientific Research and Experimental Development." It is a federal tax incentive program designed to encourage Canadian businesses to invest in R&D activities. The program aims to stimulate innovation, foster technological advancement, and enhance the competitiveness of Canadian industries.

Objectives of the SR&ED Program

  1. Foster Innovation: SR&ED encourages businesses to push the boundaries of knowledge and technology by engaging in innovative research and development.
  2. Strengthen Competitiveness: By supporting R&D efforts, the program helps Canadian businesses stay competitive in global markets.
  3. Advance Scientific Knowledge: SR&ED contributes to the expansion of scientific and technological knowledge, benefitting not only businesses but also society as a whole.

Eligibility for SR&ED

To qualify for SR&ED, businesses must meet certain criteria:

  1. Scientific or Technological Uncertainty: Projects must address scientific or technological uncertainties. This means that at the outset, it should not be clear whether the desired outcome can be achieved using existing knowledge or technology.
  2. Systematic Investigation or Experimentation: The work undertaken should involve a systematic approach to resolving uncertainties. This entails a structured process, including hypothesis formulation, experimentation, and analysis of results.
  3. Advancement of Knowledge: The project should contribute to the advancement of scientific or technological knowledge, even if it does not result in a successful innovation.

Benefits of SR&ED

Participating in the SR&ED program offers numerous benefits for Canadian businesses.

  1. Tax Credits: One of the primary advantages of SR&ED is the potential for substantial tax credits. Businesses can reduce their overall tax liability or receive tax refunds, which can be reinvested into further R&D.
  2. Cash Flow Improvement: SR&ED claims can have an immediate positive impact on cash flow. This helps businesses allocate resources more effectively for ongoing research and development efforts.
  3. Competitive Edge: Businesses that engage in SR&ED often position themselves as industry leaders. This can enhance their reputation and attractiveness to clients, investors, and partners.
  4. Innovation Support: SR&ED provides financial support for innovative projects, enabling businesses to explore new technologies and solutions.
  5. Job Creation: Many SR&ED projects result in the creation of high-skilled jobs, contributing to economic growth and employment opportunities.


In summary, the SR&ED program in Canada plays a vital role in promoting research, development, and innovation. It encourages businesses to tackle scientific and technological challenges, fosters innovation, and provides valuable tax incentives and refunds. By supporting R&D efforts, SR&ED helps Canadian businesses stay competitive on the global stage while advancing scientific knowledge and technological progress.

This article has been published for general information. You should always contact your trusted advisor for specific guidance pertaining to your individual SR&ED needs. This publication is not a substitute for obtaining personalized advice.

If you are looking for SR&ED Tax Incentive services, our experts are experienced in evaluating businesses, establishing a strong foundation to prepare your SR&ED claim.

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David leads the SR&ED and Business Tax Incentives service line for Crowe MacKay LLP. He is a problem solver with strong analytical skills and a client-centered approach to his work. He has always had a strong focus on his communication and client relationships. His areas of expertise include accounting and tax, business development, leadership and training, SR&ED (Scientific Research and Experimental Development taxes), and BC IDMTC (BC Interactive Digital Media Tax Credits). 
David Tung
David Tung
Practice Leader, SR&ED and Business Tax Incentives

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