The RDTI has a scientific/technological focus
The RDTI supports R&D that’s pushing beyond known scientific or technological boundaries.
In reality, a commercial project may involve many types of uncertainties - such as whether staff have the skills needed to achieve the project’s goals, whether the project can be completed within budgeted costs, or whether it’s commercially viable.
However, only activities aimed at resolving scientific or technological uncertainties are eligible for the RDTI.
What do we mean by “scientific” and “technological?”
Science is the systematic study of the nature and behaviour of the physical and material universe.
Technology is the practical application of scientific principles and knowledge, such as:
- physics in engineering and manufacturing
- chemistry and biology in medical or food industries
- computer science in information technology, including software and hardware development and software engineering.
Mathematics is the language of all sciences and can be both a science and method of applying the science.
Work in the arts, humanities and social sciences, including economics, is not science for the purpose of the RDTI.
You don’t need to “do” science to show that scientific uncertainty exists
To demonstrate scientific uncertainty, you don’t need to be carrying out fundamental scientific research. It’s enough to be trying to extend the practical application of scientific knowledge, in a way that could not be predicted in advance.
Similarly, to demonstrate technological uncertainty, it’s enough to show there’s uncertainty about whether existing technology can achieve your objective.
How ‘big’ does my challenge need to be?
The RDTI aims to encourage development that goes beyond what can be achieved with existing knowledge.
This does not need to be a major or fundamental advance, it can be incremental.
Uncertainty may arise as part of ordinary work, or addressing other constraints
Sometimes, scientific or technological uncertainty can arise in the course of ‘everyday’ work, such as routine product development.
In this situation, a systematic approach to resolve the identified uncertainty may be eligible for the RDTI, but the ordinary work that preceded it would not be.
Or you may attempt a technologically uncertain path as a way of meeting commercial constraints, even though a proven alternative exists. While commercial constraints do not themselves create scientific or technological uncertainty, trying to meet them might.
It’s about uncertainty, not complexity
Just because a project is complex and technically challenging, doesn’t mean it involves scientific or technological uncertainty.
If the desired outcome can be seen to be possible from the outset, without requiring a systematic investigative process to test, analyse or prototype possible solutions, it does not involve a scientific or technological uncertainty.
Situations in which scientific or technological uncertainty may arise
There are many scenarios in which scientific or technological uncertainty can arise. Here are some examples:
- the adaptation of knowledge or capability from within the same field, or from another field of science or technology
- systems uncertainty, where the components of a system and their interactions are known, but the outcome/result of the system cannot be deduced from the outset
- uncertainty about whether output specifications are achievable, or whether technological constraints or limits such as response time, reliability or reproducibility can be overcome.
Check out the General Approval application examples (links to “General Approval application examples”) for examples of scientific or technological uncertainty within the context of specific R&D projects.