Under the laws that govern R&D tax credits, organisations can claim both for developing new products, processes, systems, knowledge or devices – as well as improving existing ones. As we look to what 2023 has in store, we shine a spotlight on existing innovations that are reaching a tipping point, and what it could mean for the year ahead.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a growth market, expected to be worth $500bn in 2023. But the biggest challenge with AI has always been how it can only reach its full potential once it’s made available to all.

The growth of digitisation has started to place AI functionality at our fingertips so it doesn’t matter what a person’s technical ability is. From endless apps to ‘low-code’ ‘no-code’ platforms, and drag-and-drop interfaces, technology is facilitating the democratisation of AI so everyone can benefit.

In 2023, we expect the democratisation of AI to help address the digital skills gap.

According to BCG, 38% of business leaders believe the biggest barrier to achieving their transformation goals is a lack of relevant skills. It’s a problem that has grown 155% since 2016 and is expected to get worse over the next two years as new skills gaps emerge. However, where digital skills were once reserved for data scientists and data analysts, the democratisation of AI is making these vital skills accessible to all.

In 2023, we expect to see more knowledge workers using apps and self-service tools to perform advanced analytics themselves. As well as addressing the digital skills gap, it will aid business agility by empowering every person to use data to take advantage of a new opportunity or help overcome a challenge.

Virtual and augmented reality

Although virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies were first invented in the 1960s, they haven’t yet experienced the adoption rates you might expect. That is about to change.

In recent years we’ve seen VR and AR switch to focus on simplicity and specificity. For example, The Tilt Five is AR tabletop gaming, which uses a retroreflective board to avoid the need for expensive optical combiners. IKEA uses VR headsets to enhance its customer experience by enabling customers to imagine what their kitchen will look like with the selected furniture. And Tyson Foods uses VR to train its employees in workplace safety, which has resulted in 20% fewer work-related injuries.

In 2023, we expect to see VR and AR used more in a B2B setting as avatars are used to enhance virtual meetings.

Today, 83% of employees spend up to one-third of their work week in video meetings. But one of the biggest challenges that organisation still need to overcome is how to achieve the same level of interaction in a virtual meeting that you would face-to-face. Avatars can bring digital experiences into the real world. Using body, face, and environment tracking, some companies are working on camera filters that would allow you to drop your avatar into different platforms and use it in AR. We expect this to become a significant trend this year to enhance the employee experience and avoid the dreaded ‘zoom fatigue’.


5G is designed to enable society to reap numerous benefits – from improved mobile broadband for high-speed video streaming to large-scale IoT, and mission-critical services like remote intensive care units.

5G sensors make ultra-low latency a reality so you can manage and analyse large volumes of data in real time. While a 5G device can be connected to anything on the shop floor – from machines, sensors, automation and robots, to building management systems – to allow for less downtime and greater productivity.

In 2023, we expect to see 5G driving the growth of smart factories.

To date, we haven’t seen the adoption figures to support the excitement around smart factories. In 2020, the smart factory market was worth $5.7bn, but in 2023 this is expected to grow to $480bn. From IoT devices to sensors, edge computing, and automation, smart factories demand better connectivity, which is why manufacturing will dominate a quarter of 5G use cases by 2028. 5G and smart factories are going to deliver a level of insight and control the manufacturing sector hasn’t previously witnessed – enabling real-time tracking and monitoring to predictive maintenance, dynamic supply chains, bespoke customer requests and more.


There is an unwarranted fear that comes with the idea of robotics – 25% of office workers worry about losing their job due to automation. In reality, robotics unlocks a world of opportunity.

Robotic process automation has the potential to significantly impact the way the back office operates. For example, manual, repetitive processes – such as data entry and processing forms – can be easily automated using codified rules. This frees people to perform more valuable tasks, such as enhancing customer experience.

Robotic process automation offers a wealth of benefits, including:

  • Speed and accuracy: ensuring tasks are done the same way every time.
  • Better employee morale: allow people to do meaningful work.
  • Improved productivity: get more done with the same staff by automating repetitive tasks.
  • Scalability and flexibility: accommodate unexpected volumes quickly.
  • Improved customer experience: faster turn-around times.

In 2023, we expect to see robotic process automation freeing people to focus on more strategic work.

According to The Anatomy of Work Index, people waste 58% of their time on ‘work about work’. And the trend indicates that less time is spent on strategy – 9% in 2022, down from 14% in 2021. However, when properly configured software robots can increase a team’s capacity for work by 35% – 50%. With simple, repetitive tasks automated, people can finally spend their time where it matters most. It’s a high-growth area – in 2021 the global robotic process automation software and services market was worth $4.8bn, and by 2030 it’s expected to increase to $20.1bn.

Research and development tax credits are a benefit to many organisations as they can claim for developing new products, processes and systems, as well as improving existing ones. Here, we shine a spotlight on 2023 innovations and what they could mean moving forward.