Funding automotive innovation

Posted on 2 Jun 2015 by The Manufacturer

Martin Hook, Managing Director of R&D tax specialists Alma Consulting Group, discusses how the firm has been working with advanced technology and motorsport expert, Prodrive, to claim R&D tax reliefs for its innovative work.

Martin Hook, Managing Director, Alma Consulting Group.
Martin Hook, Managing Director, Alma Consulting Group.

With motorsport programmes for Aston Martin, MINI and VW, Prodrive is renowned for producing championship-winning cars, but what you may not realise is that its innovative approach extends far beyond the racetrack.

This year we’ve worked closely with Prodrive to examine a range of its projects and identify where its research and development activity could qualify for R&D tax reliefs.

We found that Prodrive’s innovations were as diverse as they were fascinating. From work on the next Mars Rover, to an electric supercharger for scooters, through to a market-leading luxury rear console subsystem for a leading British OEM, no two projects were the same.

Yet every project was unified by a passion for thinking differently and challenging convention. When we looked at Prodrive’s work on a British supercar, we found examples of innovation at its finest.

The car’s multi-function Active Aero Wing System (AAWS) was designed, developed and managed by Prodrive from concept design to production-ready prototype in just eight months.

This state-of- the-art AAWS has pushed the boundaries of technological knowledge in the commercial automotive industry.

Prodrive’s innovations are as diverse as they are fascinating.
Prodrive’s innovations are as diverse as they are fascinating.

The first of its kind on a road car, it has a combined functionality of three different lift capabilities, a target activation speed to switch modes within half a second, the ability to pitch at various degrees, and to operate as an airbrake at road speeds and an F1-style drag speed airbrake at higher speeds.

Prodrive also worked on the car’s front clam, which is the front portion of the chassis, from the front bumper through to the middle of the front wheel arch, which when attached opens like a clam shell; forming part of a carbon fibre MonoCage with a total weight restriction of just 90kg.

The engineers at Prodrive had to create a front clam that would meet these stringent weight and performance requirements, while also being constructed from as few components as possible.

The end product was an impressive feat of engineering; made from only two components and with no visible joints or bonds. The Prodrive team achieved this by curing the material, before using lamination to attach the two parts.

The outcome was a significant advance from the traditional front clam design and, for us, a textbook case of R&D.

Alma Consulting Group PQIt’s projects like these, where our clients have sought to overcome a scientific or technological uncertainty (however large or small), that qualify them to claim R&D tax relief from HMRC.

Our message to the automotive industry, and in fact all manufacturers, is simple; you must act now.

The benefits achieved by Prodrive are attainable by manufacturers of all sizes. Whether you are a niche parts manufacturer or an OEM, there’s a scheme to help you claim relief on your investments in R&D.

In our experience, companies like Prodrive, which invest in understanding its R&D tax relief entitlement, are typically rewarded many times over.

No business would willingly give its competitors a commercial advantage, but many are not taking advantage of R&D tax relief, while their competitors benefit.

Take a note out of Prodrive’s book. Don’t get left at the starting line.