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Innovation has become critical in the manufacturing industry. Global competition, the need to do more with less, and labour issues mean that companies must develop new ideas and processes if they want to stay in the game. In Budget 2012 the Canadian government announced a number of changes to the way it fosters innovation that could help manufacturers deal with the challenges they face.
“Our manufacturing sector consists of about 80,000 establishments with annual revenue of around $500 billion, but sales grew less than one percent between 2005 and 2008, then we saw a sharp decline in 2009. With imports growing faster than exports and a productivity gap that is reducing our manufacturing competitiveness, not to mention the need to produce at a par-U.S.-dollar situation, innovation is key,” says Ryan P. Mackiewich, CA, National SR&ED Leader at MNP.
Innovation is already happening across the industry, but many manufacturers miss out on funding. “Companies will perform R&D to make a process more environmentally sustainable, for example, without looking into the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit. If we’re going to stay competitive in the global market, we need to ensure that our companies know about and access government support for innovation,” says Andrew Pellizzari, SR&ED Technical Specialist.
If you’re doing R&D to provide the same product at a lower cost; improve packaging, environmental sustainability, or web-based customer interaction; establish traceability; or to meet regulations, you may be eligible for the SR&ED tax credit.
Changes announced in the budget will limit the amounts companies can claim through SR&ED in the future. As of January 1, 2013, you will only be able to claim 80% of contractor costs rather than 100%. One year later, capital expenditures will no longer be eligible. That means that if you buy a computer to do data analysis, for example, you will not be able to include the expenditure in your claim. The major change in the 2012 Federal Budget is the decrease in the value of the credits to large corporations from 20% to 15%. Furthermore, CRA’s imputed value on overheads will decrease from 65% of wages to 55%.
What’s the impact? Mackiewich has crunched the numbers. “For mid-market companies, there will be an approximately 7% reduction in the size of their tax credit. Over time that percentage adds up so we’re really encouraging people to see what they can do today in order to make the claims before the changes take effect,” says Mackiewich.
SR&ED changes aren’t indicative of reduced federal support for innovation. In fact, the government commissioned the Jenkins Panel because Canada appears to be lagging in innovation and the commercialization of innovative ideas when compared to other countries; the Jenkins Panel was formed to look for ways to address these problems.
“The Jenkins Panel recommended reducing the value of SR&ED and spreading the savings into more direct funding approaches,” says Mackiewich. “Overall, these cuts will save $1.3 billion which will then be directed to fund various new research and development initiatives.”
These initiatives were loosely outlined in Budget 2012 and include helping high-growth companies access risk capital, increasing direct support for innovation, supporting innovative businesses, and supporting private and public research collaborations.
“These new initiatives will continue to benefit the manufacturing industry since there is an appreciation that manufacturing is important in Canada – and as such requires more government support,” adds Pellizzari.
Two themes run through the changes: the need to be strategic and the desire to see increased collaboration. The government is taking a strategic approach to innovation support and, with a broader range of options and a more complicated support landscape, companies are going to have to do the same to maximize SR&ED claims and access other types of funding.
“SR&ED should be part of your business plan,” explains Pellizzari. “Integrate your R&D and innovation funding plans with other plans, including your succession plan, for the greatest impact. This approach can also help increase the value of your operation when you sell your company. What you do with SR&ED today can have wide-ranging value impacts tomorrow.”
Looking for ways to collaborate on SR&ED with your important customers and suppliers can also lead to stronger strategic relationships. This approach will strengthen the links in your supply chain, while differentiating and enhancing your relationships with those you rely on or want to build stronger connections with.
The first step is to have a coffee and chat with someone who understands the complexities of SR&ED. “Don’t assume that you aren’t eligible or that it’s too complicated, especially with the impending changes,” says Mackiewich. “A bit of your time today can be very lucrative in the long run.”
Armed with knowledge, you can create a plan that will maximize SR&ED funding today and help you prepare to take advantage of other funding as more information about the government’s plan is released.
For more information on what MNP can do for you, contact Ryan at 1.877.465.5678 or [email protected] or Andrew at 416.515.3195 or [email protected]
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