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New ISA Report Clarifies R&D Tax Incentive Recommendations

Today, Innovation and Science Australia released their “Australia 2030: Prosperity Through Innovation” report. The report has clarified some recommendations made during the 2016 review of the R&D Tax Incentive program which have not yet been responded to. The reviewers were asked to find opportunities to improve the R&D Tax Incentive programme, where they found that it fell short of meeting its goal of additionality and spillovers.

The ISA report clarifies proposed cost control recommendations made during the R&D Tax Incentive review. It stated that the cap on refundable offsets is proposed to operate, whereby a cap of $4M per year would apply and a maximum cumulative refund of $40M per company should apply.

The suggested “intensity threshold” for large companies would apply so that all R&D expenditure is claimable once a trigger set at 1 percent of a company’s total R&D expenditure is reached. This means a company’s R&D expenditure would need to equal at least 1 percent of their total business expenditure in order to be eligible to claim.

The report has recommended increasing business R&D by better targeting the R&D Tax Incentive towards SMEs, as they rely so heavily on the incentive (54 percent of SME’s R&D decisions are influenced by the R&D Tax Incentive vs. 34 percent for larger companies). It also proposed concentrating on direct initiatives such as increasing funding for the Export Market Development Grant and reducing support for indirect measures like the R&D Tax Incentive. Compared with many other countries, Australia has a particularly high percentage of government funding going towards indirect rather than direct R&D incentives. In Israel, Germany and Sweden, government funding is entirely dedicated to direct funding.

Furthermore, the report suggested increasing the collaboration between industry and the research sector by introducing a collaboration premium of up to 20 percent in the R&D Tax Incentive, as discussed in the review. Collaboration is a recurring theme in the R&D conversation. While we have a strong research sector globally, successfully commercialising this research requires further work.

The full report is available here.

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