What is a competent professional?

A competent professional is a hypothetical person who:

  • has suitable qualifications or skills to participate in the relevant scientific/technological field
  • has ordinary knowledge and experience in that field
  • is aware of the current state of knowledge in the field
  • can access up-to-date knowledge via publicly and generally available resources such as the internet, relevant industry journals and other professionals.

The competent professional needn’t be a world-leading expert

A competent professional doesn’t have to be a world leading expert.

In a rapidly developing field there may be very few people who understand the very latest research. It’s sufficient if the competent professional:

  • understands how existing knowledge is normally applied in the relevant area, and
  • is able to access publicly available information.

Confirming expected results versus testing unknown outcomes

To pass the competent professional test, it must be established that this person would need to undertake a systematic course of investigation to seek to resolve the uncertainty.

If it was known from the outset that this investigation would be successful, then there’s no uncertainty.

However, if the scientific or technological challenge could only be resolved by carrying out the investigation, then there’s likely to be uncertainty.

It’s not necessary to consult a competent professional

This test does not require that you actually consult a competent professional - it’s about whether such a person would consider there is uncertainty.

In reality, it’s highly likely that you would consult such a professional, who will often be a member of your R&D team.

This means they don’t need to be independent - however, they must be capable of making an objective judgement.

How can I access a relevant professional?

If you’re unsure where to find a competent professional, contact a relevant industry organisation, independent research organisation or research institute, university or relevant government agency (such as Callaghan Innovation) for advice.