Creating opportunities for innovation is crucial and incentives are a big enabler of this. The R&D Tax Incentive, is one of the most effective methods of support for early-stage commercial products.

The incentive provides support for certain product and process developments and improvement activities through either:

  • A cash refund of eligible startup costs; or
  • A reduced tax bill

For many small businesses the idea of applying for a grant is appealing, however SMEs (with limited resources) find the application process for the R&D Tax Incentive complex and time-consuming.

“Our research indicates that there is likely a large number of small businesses eligible to receive support from the R&D Tax Incentive that are currently simply unaware of the program. There is concern amongst businesses about the risk of getting it wrong,” advises Charmaine Chalmers, National R&D Tax Leader, PwC.

However in the age of digital, this difficulty reveals an opportunity to streamline and automate this process through cloud-based technology to help reduce the workload on small businesses. It was this opportunity that drove the development of Nifty R&D, our new online tool, launched this week.

Taking a startup approach to traditional processes

Following the lean startup methodology, Nifty R&D is solely aimed at helping small businesses access the R&D Tax Incentive. Where businesses would typically have a series of meetings over a two to three-week period to complete their application, Nifty R&D enables completion of the application in under an hour online.

The end-user has also been central to the Nifty development process from inception of the idea, which has allowed us to mould the platform in accordance with their feedback. One of these end-user improvements is reflected in the user experience itself – which asks for information in first person. Not typical of the majority of financial application documents, this style breaks down required information and simplifies input from the end-user.

“In the past we had to deal with confusing forms and a complicated financial entry process, so it was great to use a really intuitive online service. The guided application process was simple and saved us a large amount of time.”
Martin Kemka, WeTeachMe and Nifty R&D customer

Another factor that was important to end-users was the need to have a tax specialist review their application to ensure that it was line with government guidelines. This added a vital step to Nifty’s process by introducing a review step prior to application submission, which is performed by PwC’s R&D specialists.

Taking a startup approach to the development of Nifty R&D also means that the platform has the room to grow and iterate across its lifecycle.

Embracing digital change for efficiency, productivity and value

This SAAS offering is a first for PwC globally and represents the firm’s commitment to recognising and embracing digital change. By being able to deliver services and products (such as Nifty R&D) that suit the needs of businesses, we are aiming to help them boost productivity, efficiency and provide commercial value.

Further to this Nifty R&D represents an opportunity to help spur innovation with the local market, by providing easier access to the R&D Tax Incentive program.

“Over the last ten years the US venture capital market invested four times more than Australia (per capita). R&D Tax Incentives can play a substitute role where venture capital cannot be raised and our research indicates there are three times the number of small businesses in Australia who are eligible than actually claim the R&D Tax Incentive. Our goal is to make this process very simple for them,” says Charmaine Chalmers.

If you want to learn more, or try for yourself, check out Nifty R&D at


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Mark O’Neill

Mark O’Neill has worked in both large global corporations and small start-ups in the UK, North American and Australian markets.

Mark is passionate about building businesses and working in the ever-changing digital environment, and particularly excited by new ways of thinking, doing things differently and trying to find efficiencies in everything.

Mark’s career at PwC has included Digital Consulting and most recently launching PwC’s first ever SaaS business globally, Nifty R&D (

“Given the pace of change in the business world today, Digital is the most exciting place to be. We are seeing startups disrupt the market and drive a broad change in the way larger businesses now approach technology and innovation. This change brings with it significant opportunities for businesses, employees and customers alike.”

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