One of the most amazing things about working with R&D Tax Credits is meeting innovators like you. Every time we think we've seen it all, you show us something new and wonderful. Technology as a field does one thing incredibly well: it accelerates. Each year, boundaries are pushed back, breakthroughs are made and opportunities are opened up.
Out there on the bleeding edge of what we know and can do, there's a point where science and art shade into one another. Technologies like 3D printing live in that crossing point, where existing ideas are propelled in bold, new directions, and the results can be breathtaking. Right now, for example, visionary robotics company Open Bionics is blending artistic flair with technical brilliance. In their own words, they're “turning disabilities into superpowers” - and transforming lives in the process.
Open Bionics is using 3D printing processes to create prosthetic limbs that aren't just clumsy, ugly replicas with limited functions. There are around 5 million upper-limb amputees in the world, and Open Bionics thinks technology can do better by them. Their 3D printing systems can produce a working bionic replacement in hours, at a cost of only $3,000. For reference, that compares to around $90,000 for some existing prostheses. Their replacement hands are custom-made for the owner using 3D scanning, and they're a world removed from old-style “hook and claw” models. Open Bionics limb use sensors on the user's skin to detect muscular contractions and turn them into instructions. The result is hands that can flex, clench and grip naturally, with individual-digit precision. They're strong enough to handle 5kg in weight, but delicate enough to operate tweezers. The company has already won the James Dyson Award – a scheme that sets the challenge of solving real-world problems through innovative design and engineering. That's just the tip of the iceberg, though. In fact, they've been celebrated in no fewer than 12 award schemes since 2014.
What we haven't mentioned yet, though, is how gorgeous the damn things are.
Open Bionics are serious when they talk about superpowers. They've made the record books by producing the first prosthetic limbs based on video game characters, from cyberpunk classic Deus Ex to stealth action pioneer Metal Gear Solid. The limbs are functional and beautiful, with build times as low as 24 hours. Open Bionics products can even feature lighting and sound effects for that authentic superhero flash. They're about combining artistry, technology and culture into a seamless whole.
The right people are paying attention, too. Open bionics is working with the NHS on a clinical trial to help amputee children. With limbs based on superhero, science fiction and other characters, they're making a real difference to people's lives. When the 6-month trial concludes, the company's hoping to make its hands available at NHS clinics across the UK.
Of course, you don't need to be building a new race of warrior cyborgs to make an R&D Tax Credits claim. If you are, though, we definitely want to hear from you. In fact, whatever you're doing to make your products and services better, safer, greener or more efficient, talk to RIFT. R&D Tax Credits are a huge boost to business, but so many are still missing out. We're the UK's leading tax experts, and we specialise in getting you the credit you deserve.