Why R&D Managers Are Crucial to the Success of Innovation

6th Aug 2021
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Innovation brings benefits to businesses such as an increased competitive advantage and a better bottom line. Therefore, R&D is usually a cost that most are willing to invest in.

In fact, the average UK company spends between 2 -5% of their annual revenue on R&D: An amount that’s increased by 3.3% since 2019.

But investment in innovation can also come with a heavy price tag: Many companies fall foul of the increased risks and financial strain that launching an innovative product, service or process brings.

So, what’s the best way for companies to maximise the benefits and mitigate the downfalls of R&D?

By managing R&D activity with an R&D manager.

How does an R&D manager manage R&D activity?

If a company is serious about developing innovative products, processes or services to increase its competitive advantage and profit margins, it’s worth hiring a dedicated team of R&D engineers or specialists. Employing an R&D team means that the amount of money and effort invested in R&D projects can be tightly monitored and controlled.

To make sure the R&D team is as effective as possible though, it needs a spearhead. Someone who can oversee the entire R&D process and make sure that all team members have the expertise, knowledge and tools to make the company’s innovative products, services or processes fly rather than flop.

What does an R&D manager do? 

Ultimately, an R&D manager is responsible for administering the research and development of new products, services or processes.

They are responsible for research, planning, and implementing new programs and protocols into their company or organisation and overseeing the development of new products.” – Study

To do this, their tasks can range from selecting the right R&D projects to work on and improving communications between the R&D team and the rest of the company; to boosting morale, encouraging creativity and establishing procedures, policies and processes that outline how R&D projects should be started, carried out and finished.

They might also summarise research results, present findings to internal and external stakeholders and develop technical documentation to keep projects on track.

Why do you need to hire an R&D manager?

R&D managers can make or break a business: A good R&D manager can always generate ideas and pick exactly the right R&D project to work on, at the right time: One that fits the market, the competition, the company and the consumers perfectly. They always have an ear to the ground in the research and development field, so they’re up to date with the most advanced R&D developments. And, they’re able to execute R&D projects through a blend of exceptional people and project management skills, an ability to bring the best, most creative sides out in people and the capacity to tightly control budgets and timelines to ensure that the company makes a profit not a loss on their innovative ventures. 

Without a specialist R&D manager picking the right R&D projects, executing them flawlessly and controlling costs and timings, companies face huge amounts of risk, both financially and reputationally. 

How do you hire an R&D manager?

An excellent R&D manager is worth their weight in salt, as we’ve just seen. But, with thousands of people applying for R&D sector-based jobs, how do companies make sure they pick the right person?

The key skills, traits and characteristics that an R&D manager MUST have 

As with any new appointment, finding out if someone has the right qualifications and can do the job usually sways the decision on whether or not to hire someone.

But, with an R&D manager, it’s more than just establishing if they can do the job or not. The experience they have and the type of person they are should play a huge part in the hiring decision.   

R&D managers need to be experienced enough to guide the company towards smarter and more cost-effective innovative solutions, and they need to be a delicate blend of creative with an interest in design, but also practical with acute mathematical skills.

Top R&D engineers use their technical design skills to create functional and attractive products that are cost-effective and user-friendly.” – Salary.com

They also need to possess an in-depth understanding of what R&D tax incentives and funding opportunities are available for innovative companies to utilise, so they can maximise their R&D budget and deliver cost-effective R&D projects. They should have an R&D tax specialist, like Myriad Associates, on hand to help them win grant funding and maximise their R&D tax credit entitlement.

In summary, an effective R&D manager should have a wide variety of skills, including the ability to:

  • Select and plan the right R&D projects
  • Generate innovative ideas
  • Translate design concepts into physical objects
  • Co-ordinate R&D activities with marketing strategies
  • Encourage teamwork and creative input from the R&D team
  • Be analytical and use mathematical skills to skilfully manage budgets

It pays to choose wisely and pick the best when it comes to R&D: The right R&D manager can save money, improve processes and lead the team to develop cost-effective innovative products, processes or services.

This article was brought to you by Myriad Associates

"We have been working with Myriad for a number of years and I am delighted with their thoroughness to ensure we capture all of our claimable R&D expenditure. They are a great company and we certainly enjoy working with them! The whole process is seamless." - Paul Smith, Managing Director, Charpak Ltd

Myriad Associates are R&D tax credit and innovative grant specialists. Their expert knowledge and experience with R&D claims and innovation grants mean they have an exceptional reputation for filing R&D claims that deliver their clients the maximum amount of R&D tax relief, and winning competitive grant funding. Their right-first-time approach has created a strong relationship with HMRC which means claims are always dealt with quickly and easily.

If you or your clients work on innovative products or solutions, you should definitely find out more. Either visit the website for more information, or get in touch with the team by calling them on 0207 118 6045 or dropping them a message here.