R&D Tax Credits: ecology consultants reap rewards

31 May, 2019

Find out how R&D tax credits can help your business grow like Oxfordshire’s Ecology by Design. They found the claims process simpler than they thought and the results surpassed any expectations…

Ecology by Design were introduced to R&D tax credit specialists, Business Solutions (Midlands), by ISO Quality Services’ MD, Jennifer Semini.

Ecology by Design is an ecology consultancy based in Oxfordshire. It specialises in helping its clients achieve their construction aims whilst balancing the needs of local ecology, including protected species such as bats, great crested newts and badgers.

Although Ben Gardner, Director, and his team of seven would be the first to acknowledge the level of R&D that goes into fulfilling their contracts, such as when a particularly innovative proposal is required to meet stringent planning requirements, the company had been put off claiming for R&D tax credits, having been advised that the process was difficult. A chance conversation with fellow Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Programme delegate, Jennifer Semini of ISO Quality Services, piqued Ben’s interest and inspired him to find out more about the tax credit scheme.

Attracted by their ‘no win, no fee’ approach, Ben was happy to meet with Phil and Darren from Business Solutions (Midlands) Ltd to see if a few hours spent finding out about tax credits could result in what he terms ‘free money’. Going into the meeting, Ben had no fixed idea of the value of a potential claim so it was a pleasant surprise to be told that his science based business would be eligible to reclaim a substantial sum.

The claim process proved far easier than Ben had expected. All he had to do was attend two short meetings held at his offices and invest a few hours of his time in collating the relevant numbers.

Having gained an understanding of what R&D looked like for Ecology by Design, Phil and Darren were able to put together an accurate and compelling application in a matter of weeks. It demonstrated the firm’s R&D capabilities by showcasing an example of their Para 79 work. Under Para 79, planning permission for an isolated new home in the countryside is only granted when the applicant has demonstrated that the design is of ‘exceptional quality’ and ‘innovative in nature’. Ecology by Design’s innovations, which followed on from detailed site surveys, included a focus on the wider ecosystem rather than a single species, creating linking habitat parcels to attract new key species and quantitative monitoring of the site pre and post development to assess the impact on invertebrates, used, in this case, as an indicator of the change in relative biodiversity value of the site. Not only did the R&D that went into the Para 79 application improve the ecology of the land in question, it also resulted in a very successful R&D claim too. The sum claimed was paid to Ecology by Design within a matter of weeks.

Ben comments, “Innovation is at the heart of what we do so I don’t know why we didn’t make a claim sooner. Now we understand the process, we can tailor the way we work to maximise future claims. For example, now we can confidently take on more R&D intensive projects knowing that we can claim a proportion of the costs back. We are also implementing ISO 14001 this year and elements of this will fall into our next claim. We found working with Business Solutions to be extremely rewarding and we are delighted that Jennifer chose to donate her referral fee to the Midlands Air Ambulance, her company’s charity of choice.”

Next steps:

Find out more about Ecology by Design or Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.

Get the ball rolling on a tax credit claim, including relevant elements of an ISO management system, by contacting Phil at Business Solutions. You can call him on 07541 838 476 or email him on phil@bsmidlands.co.uk.

Read about our own experience with R&D tax credits and how we use our rebate to drive further growth.

Find out how ISO 14001, the Environmental Management Standard, can benefit your business.

Photo credit: Ecology by Design Ltd.


ISO Quality Services Ltd are proud to specialise in the implementation and certification of the Internationally recognised ISO and BS EN Management Standards.

Do you want to get ahead of your competition? Win more tenders or save time and money on reoccurring issues? Contact us today on 0330 058 5551 or email info@isoqsltd.com.

Alternatively, you can request a quote by filling out our enquiry form and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.

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