Why are some activities excluded from the RDTI?

The reasons why a particular activity is excluded can include:

  • it doesn’t meet the RDTI definition of scientific or technological uncertainty
  • it results in inadequate spill-over benefits for New Zealand
  • it is a type of activity the Government does not wish to incentivise.

Some activities are excluded as core R&D activities but may be eligible as supporting activities. Others are excluded as both core R&D and supporting activities.


Excluded as core R&D activities but may be eligible as supporting activities

The following activities are excluded as core R&D, but may be eligible as supporting activities:

  • research in social science, arts, or humanities
  • quality control, routine testing, routine collection of information and routine operations on data
  • reverse engineering a commercial product or process from an existing product or system or from plans, blueprints, detailed specifications, or publicly available information
  • data mapping and data migration testing, i.e. the process of creating data element mappings between 2 distinct data models
  • bug testing, beta testing, system requirement testing, user acceptance testing and data integrity testing
  • minor adaptations and cosmetic or stylistic changes or improvements, including to software
  • testing or comparing the efficiency of algorithms already known to work
  • testing security protocols or arrangements to reveal flaws in the security mechanisms of an information system. 
  • converting existing systems to, or integrating existing systems with, new software platforms, with the aim of extending the life of, improving or renewing a product or service by establishing it on a new software platform.


Excluded as both core R&D and supporting activities

The following activities are excluded as both core R&D and supporting activities:

  • pre-production activities, including demonstration of commercial viability and tooling up for commercial production
  • routine de-bugging of existing computer software - i.e. the process of fixing errors or faults in software
  • supporting or making minor improvements to existing computer software, using known methods
  • routine software and computer maintenance
  • prospecting, exploring or drilling for minerals, petroleum, natural gas or geothermal energy
  • market research, market testing, market development or sales promotion, including consumer surveys
  • commercial, legal or administrative aspects of patenting, licensing or similar activities 
  • activities involved in complying with statutory requirements or standards for pre-existing processes, services, or goods
  • management studies
  • activities relating to organisational design
  • ineligible internal software development, i.e. software development undertaken for the only or main purpose of the internal administration of your business or the business of your associates