The lifecycle of a R&D grant has three main phases:
- Preparation and submission of the funding request.
- Interim period between submission of the request and its approval by the research committee.
- Project execution and progress reporting.
Request Preparation and Submission
This phase is typically four to six weeks long, depending on the maturity of the concept and on the completeness and quality of the collateral material submitted by the company. The main issues addressed at this time include:
- Formulation of an overall strategy, and initial determination of the focus and scope of the R&D effort to be supported by the desired grant.
- Gathering and compilation of information and data (initially from the R&D department) and optimal specification of the expected products.
- Preparation of initial draft of the funding request.
- Interactive review of the draft with the R&D, Marketing and Finance departments.
- Integration of the final draft chapters into a complete and coherent funding request.
- Final round of proof-reading and final comments.
- Signing and submission of the request.
The Interim Period
At this time the company is required to undergo an appraisal by a qualified auditor and by the chief of the subject matter domain at the OCS, or by representatives of the foundation approached by the company. The appraisal involves one (or more) meetings in which the company is requested to present the proposed R&D plan and elaborate its main aspects, such as technological innovation, the products and their advantages, market size, and other marketing aspects.
The meetings with the auditor are of utmost importance, since he is the one who presents the company’s case to the research committee. To fulfill this part of his role he must have a clear overall picture of the company, the technology and the proposed product. The company can help him by providing a clearly written funding request, briefing him, using a well-built presentation, and preparing itself by running simulated appraisals.
Following the appraisal the company may be requested to provide complementary material.
The appraisal includes a financial audit, usually performed by a certified accountant acting on behalf of the OCS or the foundation. This audit, which verifies that the company has the resources to finance its share of the R&D effort, is one of the conditions that needs to be fulfilled before any R&D funds can be released to the company.
Project Execution and Progress Reporting
Companies whose R&D funding requests are approved are obliged to report periodically during each year on the progress achieved and on expenses incurred. Annual reports, summarizing accounting and technical information are to be submitted by the end of each year of the R&D program.
To allow a controlled degree of flexibility, the company may submit a request to make budgetary changes or to move some of the project’s milestones, as long as the requested changes do not change the nature of the R&D effort or the intrinsic characteristics of its products. When several companies participate in the R&D effort (as in the case of ISERD or bi-national foundations) all participants must agree to the proposed changes.