What is the Research and Development Industry?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 29 October 2019
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The research and development industry is focused solely on increasing knowledge and using this new knowledge to create new tools and improve existing tools. This industry is also known as R and D or R&D. There are three primary areas where the research and development industry are focused: scientific disciplines, technology, and consumer products.

It is important to note that the research and development industry often operates at a financial loss. The overall cost to develop a new product or innovation is very high, and there is no guarantee of either success or profitability. Many very important inventions are built upon a wide range of work completed by other firms within the research and development industry. The work by other firms may provide direction, inspiration, or guidance.

In this industry, staff members are required to have a high degree of training and expertise in the primary area of research. For example, in the pharmaceutical industry, all R&D investigators have completed doctoral degree programs in biochemistry, pharmacy, pharmaceuticals, or related field of study. In addition to the academic credentials, investigators would need to have working experience in research, product review, and analysis.


One of the most active areas of research and development is found within the scientific disciplines. Many developments are based on enhancements of existing technology or concepts. Innovations in this area require years of steady work and can become quite expensive to fund. Success in this aspect of research and development does not necessarily translate into a product that can generate revenue for the company. In fact, many developments never translate into viable products.

Technology in the research and development industry typically focuses on two markets: consumer and business users. The consumer market for technology development has traditionally centered around gaming systems or entertainment products. In the past five to eight years, there has been an increased development in combination products, adding entertainment aspects to functional, communication equipment.

Consumer products cover a wide range of items, from personal care to packaged foods. Development in this industry is very specific and focused on a particular market and targeted need. For example, the introduction of single serving packaging that can be frozen and microwaved has resulted in an increase in market share and profitability.

There are a variety of positions available in the research and development industry, ranging from marketing to product innovation. Consumer product testing, market research, and focus groups are all part of the research and development industry. This is an essential part of developing new products that are commercially viable.



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