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R&D Technical Narrative: Technical Uncertainties and their Resolution

Information on the Technical Uncertainties and their Resolution section in the Technical Narrative 

In this section you should describe the problems you encountered and how you did or didn’t overcome them. You'll need to describe the following:

  • The problems you encountered

  • How did you try to solve them

  • The timeline of the R&D projects in detail

  • Did these R&D projects succeed or fail? *Projects that failed are as important as the projects that succeeded as they can show the complexity or technical uncertainty you encountered. Remember that you don’t need to succeed or achieve your goals on a project to claim R&D relief.

  • Mention the software you used in your R&D projects and what it was used for.

  • Feel free to include extracts of your code or pictures of prototypes built

  • If possible include some very brief details about future R&D plans or any work that has been done after the period of this R&D project in question

Full Example for Technical Uncertainties and Their Resolution

The examples below are aimed to provide a very basic guide on the type of content and tone required in a Technical Narrative Report, and should not be used as a template. Your report will require more technical detail than is outlined below. If you'd like further guidance on how to answer specific questions, please contact your R&D expert. 

What scientific or technological uncertainties did you face?

In order to implement the real‐time learning analytics platform, Company New Games needed a service which gathers data to demonstrate how effectively a player is learning. The research, conducted by Company New Games’ team, concluded that in the existing analytical products and services available, there is no service focused on helping users achieve learning outcomes, instead, they are mostly concerned with product performance.

Describe why the existing solutions are/ were not appropriate for this project

Our team of competent professionals, have tested Company A and Company B, and found that they didn’t personalise their educational games, as such the learning outcomes were poor, and students weren’t motivated to proceed using these tools.

Describe the issues the ‘competent professionals’ were hired to deal with and why they were not easily deducible. Also give details (Name, role, qualifications and experience) of the ‘competent professionals’:

Our team of competent professionals, including Jonathan (+10 years of experience in the gaming industry), Jason (senior teacher at Best School) and 2 more qualified engineers, sought to integrate existing capabilities with regards to learning analytics, but this was not easily deducible, because one of the technical difficulties in the implementation of the learning analytics platform was designing an algorithm which could draw insights about the progress of the player based only on the way they play the game. This functionality is technically challenging as it requires constant monitoring of the actions of the user and picking a set of actions which are significant in the context of learning.

Another technical challenge our team of competent professionals faced was when the user‐base of the application had grown and the database requests from the users became too much for the existing configuration. In this situation, the number of users and respectively the huge amount of requests they make while playing the game, lead to latency in visualisation. Aiming to provide immediate real‐time results to its users, the team focused on solving this problem.

Describe the methodology of the resolution of the issues mentioned, and any other efforts (whether successful or not) that were undertaken to resolve the technical uncertainties mentioned:

The team had to gather data from the events stream in the user’s game, such as failed execution of code or editing of parameters, and apply a set of complex custom algorithms which would translate these actions into meaningful learning indicators. Afterwards, another custom algorithm compares these indicators to other users’ and sends the results to the visualisation engine.

In depth research was conducted in order to create the appropriate development of the analytical visualisation. Company New Games ensured the high quality and responsiveness of the visualisation by running numerous user tests in collaboration with the target environment of the application – teachers and students. In the process, a number of imperfections and minor data inaccuracies were eliminated, and the performance of the product reached a satisfying level.

With regards to the latency in visualisation ,a huge improvement we are making is by redesigning the architecture of our server cluster – a group of servers, which enables high availability of services for our clients. The team is shifting from the current hosting solution to one which would satisfy their new higher demand of services. The main challenge is the migration from the existing solution to a new one, because poorly designed processes might result in loss of access to data and services. To overcome this challenge, Company New Games’ developers work extensively on designing the implementation of the migration, without changing the delivered services and minimising the risk of data and services outage. Because of the high technical complexity of this task, the work is still ongoing.

Describe any future plans and ongoing R&D work relating to this project to achieve further advances or overcome the uncertainties.

The team continues conducting research and testing new components in order to upgrade and optimise the platform. Future plans include integrating the analytics platform with more products of Company New Games.