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Test and trace: at the heart of innovation

Stuart Weekes, Partner, Corporate Tax
15/10/2020
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The government recently launched the NHS test and trace app, announcing that it will be a world class service which clearly sets high expectation and puts intense pressure on those who are seeking to deliver this emerging technology.

Whatever your views on its launch and potential success, from an innovation perspective, it seems to be very appealing.

At the heart of Innovation is the desire to try something new, then to review its success and where appropriate adapt it. Where it fails the decision might be to scrap it; where it is successful, to enhance it.

How does it work?

Using Bluetooth technology the app keeps a log of close contacts who have come within two metres of a person for 15 minutes or more. The apps exchange a key or Bluetooth digital handshake. The Bluetooth signal strength is used to measure how close those people were.

In the event someone has a positive result for COVID-19 they enter their details into the app and the keys are shared with a central server. Based on the exchange of keys anyone who has had the appropriate amount of contact will receive a message that they need to take action i.e. get a test, self-isolate etc.

The app also enables tracing at venues. In the event someone is tested positive, other people who were at the same venue, the same time and for the requisite contact time receive a message via the app.

It is clear that this system has its critics and often for good reason to seek to make improvements rather than political gain. However, politics aside and solely focusing on innovation, the way that this app will work and the technology driving it seems very impressive and demonstrates a high level of innovation.

How can innovation be translated into tax credits?

Focusing solely on the technology, this would seem to be something that is advancing technology and how we use it. When considering how to deliver this tool effectively, even competent engineers in the field did not know how to resolve it. 

These are key tenets for a project to qualify for research and development tax credits – also known as R&D tax credits.

R&D tax credits are available to any company in the UK that is seeking to make an advance in science or technology. The company concerned may not call it R&D and may not even know that they are carrying out R&D.

The value to a company is significant. An SME could receive a benefit of up to 43% so if the company has £100,000 of qualifying costs it could receive a direct cash benefit of up to £43,000.

As we know this is the second version of a test and trace app, the earlier version having not been successful. It is clear that there is a desire for the app to be successful, but when considering R&D tax credits it is important to note that even projects that fail can qualify for the R&D tax credits providing the conditions for making a claim are met.

The challenge is to ask whether your company been innovative in the last six months (or longer)? It does not have to be on anything as high profile as the test and trace app. Find out today whether your company could be eligible for R&D tax credits.

Corporate Tax Partner, Stuart Weekes looks at the Test and Trace app, and how innovation can qualify for R&D tax credits.

R&D tax credits calculator 

Use our R&D tax credits calculator to get an indication of the cash benefit you can receive from claiming R&D tax relief. 

Contact us

Stuart Weekes
Stuart Weekes
Partner, Corporate Tax
Thames Valley