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Innovation in the Veterinary Industry

Invisible lab coat series: the R&D in places you don't see

This week, we’d like to point the spotlight on an industry which, despite employing research and development and innovative treatments in everyday practices, remarkably underclaim when it comes to R&D tax credits. As is the case for many other industries, the reasons for this are simply due to misconceptions about what qualifies and lack of knowledge or means of filing a claim.

We turned to the Vet Times to scour the latest on research and development in the veterinary industry, and here are some of the highlights:

The Purina Institute, after years of study, are searching for ways to increase water intake in felines to improve hydration and lower urinary tract conditions - from nutrient enriched water supplements to optimising simple factors such as the water bowl position, bowl construction materials and even fill level. Research and development efforts can, for example, go into creating new water bowl concepts to increase the amount that cats drink.

The Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET) recently developed a tool to improve the efficiency of reporting adverse drug reactions and suspected lack of expected efficacy events to the VMD. This is an example of research and development in systems and software that support business processes - where paper reports and online forms are replaced by a method that saves time and duplication of effort. The impact, they hope, will be seen in more reporting to contribute to improved health and welfare of animals.

And Animalcare has launched their new product Thiamacare, the strongest oral solution of thiamazole that's available, used for treating feline hyperthyroidism. The research and development aspect would relate to the improvement of an existing product by doubling the concentration for the lowest dose volume available, in a liquid format that majority of cat owners prefer and cats find more palatable.

Much of the sector is made up of small and medium enterprises who stand to gain the most.

As each life is different, what veterinarians think is simple day-to-day work, actually often results in specialising treatments to each new animal they care for. A good rule of thumb to think about is whether there is a trial-and-error approach to the work carried out – is there an attempt to improve the outcome each time? Are there changes in the processes and protocols happening for a specific animal’s need to produce a better result? Is there a distinct technique to the standard being used that benefits the animal more?

R&D does not have to be only related to the care of animals but also the way the business is run: improving the performance of systems, processes or software specific for the company’s particular services, security, data storage or scalability. Another overlooked element is money spent on research, particularly when people do this with universities or part of a qualification within the field.

Due to the diverse and subjective nature, it’s hard to provide an extensive list of qualifying R&D activities for businesses in this industry. A misconception is that a breakthrough must have happened when what actually qualifies is an attempt at overcoming uncertainty – the process of trying to find a solution.

Novus Tax offers a free assessment so companies can find out if they are in fact eligible, particularly in industries where it might not be as obvious. Claiming R&D tax credits can be a lengthy and difficult process, so we want to break down the barriers to make it easier to access the benefits of the scheme. Out of the 51,985 claims made in 2018-19, 1.38% were from the Health & Social Work sector. The numbers are underwhelming and further highlights the missed opportunity veterinarians could be getting back to continue to innovate animal healthcare. A telephone conversation is all it takes to look at your business through an R&D lens and see if whether your company has been engaging in it without maybe even being aware – and the benefit you can stand to gain.

Any enquiries can be made by reaching out to us via email at or calling 02038970700.

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