Bing Crosby crooned about a white Christmas, but let’s face it that doesn’t happen too much around most parts of the UK. Certainly in our base at Bristol the odds are 7-1 in 2016, so we won’t hold our breath.

Instead, we asked the team what they were dreaming for under the Christmas tree. There was one catch – given our love of all things R&D it had to be innovative or techy. What they came back with was a mix of useful, bizarre and amazing.

In every case, though, we see design ingenuity, a common problem solved in a clever way, or the application of a major tech trend.

Behind most shiny things in our world, there are often years of hard graft, research and development, inspired thinking, failed iterations and exciting breakthroughs. At ForrestBrown, we are fortunate enough to work with many of the clever companies and their people around the UK that conduct research and development to move the world forward. We help them get government funding through research and development tax credits to aid their innovation. We always want to talk to more companies who are developing new or improved products, services and systems.

So what are we waiting for? Grab a mince pie, pour yourself a glass of mulled wine and find out what our team have been including in their letters to Santa.

Gocycle G3

Chosen by Simon Brown CTA, Managing Director & Founder

Having spent a recent Saturday in Lisbon on an electric bike, it made me realise how great they could be for getting around. With roads becoming more congested, perhaps electric bikes are the future for getting around town. Simon Brown CTA, Managing Director & Founder

Just wow. This electric bike is a treasure trove of innovation. The brainchild of a former McLaren whizz, Richard Thorpe, this bike not only looks great but delivers a phenomenal number of features and benefits – many borrowed from the automotive industry:

  • LED daylight running lights for safety
  • Proprietary quick-detach Pitstop Wheels® for ease of folding and maintenance
  • Injection metal moulded magnesium frame making it the lightest bike in its class
  • Bluetooth connectivity with dedicated iPhone and Google apps to control settings and get system feedback.

It’s great to see all these technologies brought together to reinvent the urban cycling experience and help solve real world problems.

 

Tile

Chosen by Daniel Middleton ATT, Tax Consultant

The thing I've wanted for a while is one of those 'never lose your keys again!' fobs from Tile.

This clever piece of tech attaches as a fob to your keys, then you download the app onto your phone to see the exact GPS location of your stuff. They also do super-thin versions you can stick to the back of your iPad or slip into your wallet. Daniel Middleton ATT, Tax Consultant

If you are the type of person who is always losing your keys, frantically running around trying to remember where you last had them, these could be tiny life-savers.

These funky little tiles also emit sound through tiny but powerful speakers so you can find your stuff under mountains of laundry or dig it out from between the sofa cushions. Once you’ve found one, you’ve found them all as you can double press the fob to ring your phone – even if it’s on silent!

Plinth and Suprello

Chosen by Michelle Lang, PA

I fancy one of these nicely designed little gadgets called Plinth. I love the way I can use it with my tablet or a cookbook. And a second one from me is the Suprella – an umbrella that opens upside-down so you don’t get wet when you close it – perfect for our lovely British climate! Michelle Lang, PA

Both of these tech pressie ideas are fine examples of engineering-led innovation, that lead to new and better ways of doing existing things. Both also give consideration to materials in order to improve the user experience, in these cases through a light-weight, portable and robust product for Plinth; and a super water-resisting coating for Suprello. Plinth even featured on Dragons’ Den where it impressed those hard-to-please dragons with its quality.

On my wish list is the World’s loudest bike horn. I cycled 7,500km in the last year and having this would have come in very handy!

The reason I need it is to warn pedestrians and drivers. A lot of drivers for example have very bad road position. In slow moving traffic, I should be able to get through on the left, but inevitably, cars are kissing the curb, and should be further over.

If I can warn them loudly as approaching, pedestrians would actually look before stepping into my path and drivers would actually look in their left wing mirror. Stephen James CTA, Tax Manager

Does anything cause more debate than the rights and wrongs of cyclists, motorists and pedestrians? Whilst, it can be humorous to observe from the side lines, it is a serious issue: tens of thousands of cyclists alone injured worldwide each year – not to mention other road accidents. The Hornit is designed to give cyclists a bit more control over their own safety by giving them the firepower (140 decibels) to alert their presence to those around them.

Interestingly, from an R&D perspective, the innovation doesn’t have to stop with developing the first breakthrough idea. Team Hornit have gone on to modify their super horn into a separate product for kids’ bikes, as well as a string of accessories. Such activity doesn’t guarantee that R&D is happening from a tax perspective, but it is an indicator that it may be.

 

Looblade

Chosen by Adam Kotas CTA, Director

Adam has suggested a delightful little stocking-filler that is sure to have a big impact. “It’s the reinvention of a classic” Adam simply states, and he’s not wrong! We are all familiar with the classic bristly toilet brush – that was so 20th century. The toilet brush of the 21st century isn’t a brush at all. Looblade has a silicone head that looks like a drill bit, so one swipes rather than scrubs. It’s made from a certified anti-germ material that will kill 99.9% of germs reducing the need for chemical cleaners, and its silica-nanotechnology dries quickly and minimises dripping.

It all adds up to a product that is touted as having better cleaning performance – the blades make for more efficient contact with a toilet bowl than bristles; does not clog with debris; is more effective at clearing blockages; reduces bleach use by 75%, flushing by 75% and lasts five times longer than a regular brush. What’s not to like?

The concept shows nicely that you don’t have to be doing rocket science to be innovative. We only wish we could be there to see the look on Mrs Kotas’s face as she unwraps it!

 

Neato Botvac D85

Chosen by Mark Smout, Head of Business Development

 

The gadget I'd suggest should feature on everyone's Christmas list this year is my Neato Botvac D85. While I'm out at work I know he's at home getting my carpets spotless for when I return. If you don't like vacuuming (and who does?) then there's nothing quite like getting in after a hard day’s work to find that a robot has done the cleaning for you when you've been out. It makes you feel like you're one of The Jetsons! Mark Smout, Head of Business Development

Robot technology is very obviously innovative. Software coding, sensors, motors, battery development, materials are just a few of the areas of research and development that could qualify for R&D tax credits.

And if you can’t quite picture it, here’s a video of little Neato doing his rounds:

Wacaco, HP Sproket

Chosen by Tom Jones ATT, Tax Manager

Apart from the dream of having a DJI Phantom 4 drone, more realistically I'd say that I like the Minipresso NS portable espresso maker due to my newly found taste for coffee.

My wife, Alice, also likes the HP Sprocket portable photo printer and the Polaroid snap instant - she loves a good social media photo so being able to print them immediately would make her day. Tom Jones ATT, Tax Manager

There is a strong portable theme to Tom’s choices, and with the amount of coffee that the ForrestBrown team get through, we are surprised more people didn’t suggest the Wacaco for their Christmas list.

This clever piece of engineering sees the coffee extracted using a tiny semi-automatic piston, powered with a hand pump. Wacaco have developed different products that can be used with ground coffee, Nespresso pods and Caffitaly capsules.

Making one thing compatible with another often requires considerable research and development, as does modifying an established product to work in a smaller portable format. Companies may have to experiment extensively with materials and design prototypes to ensure they deliver the required functionality within size and weight parameters.

The HP Sprocket is a tiny printer the size of a mobile phone. Capitalising on the selfie trend and other quick snaps, it gives users the ability to print tiny 2×3 inch sticky back photos so they have something tangible to remember a moment by – not just a social media post. There will be similar innovation here relating to developing compact functioning product, plus a digital angle with the development of mobile apps with which to connect to the printer.

 

Merry Christmas from everyone at ForrestBrown

If there is one thing that this wish list has shown, it is that innovation comes in all shapes and sizes. There are many fantastic companies out their changing the world we live in one step at a time (and providing a handy Christmas present or two). Clever ideas, advanced engineering, and sometimes just looking at things a little differently.

If you are innovating and want to see if we can help you claim the government’s R&D tax credit incentive, give us a call. And in the meantime, have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year.

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