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Research and development, more popularly known by its abbreviation R&D, is the set of innovative activities that are undertaken by governments or corporations in the development of new services or products as well as in improving existing ones. Research and development constitute the first stage of the development of potential new services or the production process in itself.

R&D activities differ from one institution to the other, with two primary models of an R&D department 

  • Staffed by engineers and tasked directly with the development of new products
  • Staffed with scientists and tasked with the role of doing applied research in scientific or technological fields to facilitate future product development. 

R&D differs from the majority of corporate activities with respect to the fact that it is not exactly intended to yield immediate profit and in addition, carries much higher risk and uncertain return on investment. That being said, R&D is vital to the acquisition of larger shares of the market through the marketization of new products. Another popular acronym that describes this field is R&D&I or R&D&i, which expands to research, development, and innovation.

New product development and design are often crucial factors in the survival of a company. In an ever-changing global industrial landscape, firms need to keep revising their design and range of products because of the fierce competition and evolving preferences of consumers. In the absence of research and development, a firm needs to rely on strategic alliances, acquisitions, and networks to tap into the innovations of others, which makes them dependent – something most companies do not enjoy.

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