Learnovate Lunchtime Series: Tax Incentives for Innovators

The November Lunchtime Seminar may well go down as a missed opportunity for those who could not attend. James and Caroline from Mazars gave the members who did attend a very frank and practical view on how to approach the area of Research & Development Tax Credit. The credit certainly appears to be a valuable benefit for companies engaged in research and development, returning 25% on qualifying expenditure and the potential to realise it in cash.

Mazars pointed out that both the research and the activities that are considered viable for the credit are wider than one might think. In relation to research, the three main areas are Basic Research, Applied Research and Experimental development. In terms of activities, alongside the traditional science lab style research, software development and process engineering can qualify.

Through some very clear examples Mazars showed how the credit can amount to quite a tidy sum when you add in salaries, direct & indirect costs, capital expenditure and subcontractors (or universities!).

In terms of realizing the credit there are various options, the credit can be claimed irrespective of whether the company is in profit or not. Profitable companies can offset against current or the prior years’ Corporation Tax with excess carried forward. Loss making companies can get cash refund or hold to offset against future Corporation Tax.

There is no catch associated with this credit, but you do only have a 12 month window in which to claim your credit. The applications can be subject to interrogation by revenue and this is where Mazars can assist in terms of planning and documenting any claims.

There was a lot of interest in the follow up session, and James was asked about initiatives such as customisation, if the activity is for a third party and version development, the answer was that on a case by case basis all have potential to be open for claim, although only one company can claim for a each activity. The rule of thumb is, was there either a scientific or technical advancement? Or did the activity seek to resolve a scientific or technological uncertainty?

James can be contacted at: jhughes@mazars.ie

Dr Neil Peirce – Learnovate technology lead graduates.

Our sincere best wishes to Dr Neil Peirce who graduated on Friday the 8th of November. Neil is an original Learnovate team member and will be familiar to a lot of our members and associates as one of our technology leads. Neil’s PhD thesis was in the area of Technology Enhanced Learning and was titled “The Non-invasive Personalisation of Educational Video Games”.

The abstract for Neil’s thesis reads as follows; Educational video games present a progressive approach to technology enhanced learning that offer intrinsically rewarding experiences, high interactivity, an environment with low-risk of failure, and the freedom and flexibility to illustrate educational concepts. In addition to the benefits of game- based learning the consideration of varying abilities and preferences has long been recognised as a significant factor in learning. In addressing this, the use of personalisation that tailors the learning to the individual, has been extensively used within Intelligent Tutoring Systems, and Adaptive Hypermedia. The incorporation of personalisation into educational video games presents the possibility of an intrinsically motivating learning experience that is also tailored to each individual learner. However, this integration presents considerable design challenges as there emerge potentially conflicting objectives. Most notably the desire to maintain an engaging game can conflict with the desire to adapt the game to benefit learning. In order to preserve the benefits of game-based learning the personalisation must be considerate of the game’s storyline, character consistency, and character plausibility. In essence the personalisation must be non-invasive to the gaming experience. This thesis proposes a novel four-stage approach to the non-invasive personalisation of educational video games. This approach not only ensures that are all adaptations are non-invasive to the game being adapted it also achieves this in a flexible and reusable manner. Through loosely coupling the video game with the personalisation that adapts it, the Adaptive Learning In Games through Non-invasion (ALIGN) system facilitates the independent authoring of the game and the personalisation strategies. This separation further enables the reuse of ALIGN across multiple games effectively reducing the development costs of personalised games. To evaluate and validate this research the ALIGN system was trialled with contrasting games both in terms of their game style and learning content. Through the use of authentic user trials the ALIGN system was shown to represent a progression towards the effective reuse of personalisation across adaptive educational games.