Life sciences R&D

Big changes coming for R&D in the life sciences sector

With the most significant changes to research and development (R&D) since 2000 on the way, R&D tax reliefs are no longer a given. Life sciences and biotech businesses need to prepare now to avoid missing out on vital reliefs.

R&D tax relief has always been seen by the life sciences sector as a well-established and reliable tax incentive that fulfils its purpose by encouraging innovation. Spin-outs and start-ups in the sector have relied on the relief since its introduction in 2000, and it’s a valued support to cash flow in the early years before commercialisation. 

Why is this happening?

21 years on from the introduction of R&D tax relief, changes are afoot. HMRC and HM Treasury are increasingly concerned that the regimes are open to abuse and need refocusing.

In a recent discussion with senior HMRC members, the proposed change to the status quo was described as, ‘one of the most fundamental policy shifts since the introduction of the regime’. Clearly, we are approaching a turning point.

While we support the underlying drivers for these changes – namely, to encourage businesses to ‘buy British’ and invest further in UK businesses, and end abuse of the system – we also have very real concerns about the consequences of restricting access to a tax relief that has been the lifeblood of early-stage businesses in the UK. 

How can life sciences businesses prepare?

In this series of dedicated insights for the life sciences sector from our Innovation Relief specialists, we explain what is already known to be changing, what is intended to change in the next few years and, importantly, how this might affect your business.

Watch our webinar

PAYE cap for R&D claims – the impact for life sciences

20 April 2022

How will the PAYE cap reintroduction for R&D claims impact cashflow for life sciences and biotech businesses? And will it be a significant funding limitation for life sciences SMEs and start-ups?

Read more
Restricting R&D relief for expenditure incurred overseas – the impact for life sciences

25 April 2022

How will HM Treasury’s proposed restrictions for R&D relief for expenditure incurred overseas impact life sciences businesses? Read on to find out the impacts.

Read more
Tackling R&D abuse – Will your claims still be compliant?

25 April 2022

HMRC proposes several changes to the R&D claims submission process. Read on to find out how this will impact the life sciences sector.


How RSM can help

To discuss the impact of these changes in more detail, please contact our specialists: 

James Tetley James Tetley

Partner, Innovation reliefs

Lizzie Gosling Lizzie Gosling

Director, Innovation reliefs

Laragh Jeanroy Laragh Jeanroy

Office Managing Partner Cambridge and Bury St Edmunds, Co-Head of Life Sciences

Graham Bond Graham Bond

Office Managing Partner, Chester and Liverpool, Co-Head of Life Sciences