What is Research and Development?

What is research and development? What is the main purpose of research and development? What is an example of research and development? Why are competitive industries investing on research and development? This article provides answers to these questions.

The words “research and development” is a buzzword in universities and colleges in many countries nowadays. Developing countries, in particular, have to invest more on productive activities through research and development to become more competitive in an increasingly globally-oriented economy.

But what is research and development? Why are these two words usually linked together?

Definition of Research and Development

The main purpose of research is to produce new information or discover new relationships that could be used to address human needs. Research, therefore, is the discovery of something new through the application of logical processes or procedures.

New findings through research means the possibility of producing new products, processes or procedures that use or integrate these new findings. The application of research findings is the development part. Development, therefore, is the application of research findings to productive uses to address a specific human need.

Example of the Result of Research and Development

The research and development concept can be clarified using a research finding and its application through development activities. A classic example is the discovery of a liquid and electrolyte mix, Gatorade.

Gatorade is the ultimate example of successful research and development originating from a university that got its way into commercial uses. Through royalties from Gatorade, the University of Florida (UF) was able to fund countless research ventures.

The research component of this story is the discovery by a team of UF scientists of two key factors  that caused players to tire and succumb to illness caused by a hot environment. These are the fluids and electrolytes lost through sweating. Recognizing that these fluids and electrolytes are not replaced simply by water, the university scientists initially concocted a mix of salt, sugar and lemon juice.

At first try, the mix was not perfect but the researchers have found significant results. The players who took the drink did not tire easily and improved on their performance in the games.

The UF researchers further refined the product (the development part) until the right proportion of salt, sugar and lemon (primarily for taste) was finally made. From then on, the players of the University of Florida keep on winning their games. Later, some other universities followed suit to maximize the capacity of their players.

Why Invest in Research and Development?

Many commercial ventures especially those that manufacture products invest in research and development. Research and development enable them to be more competitive by delivering new or improved products in the market for the public’s use.

Without good research and development support, a company will lag behind and eventually lead to possible bankruptcy unless they merge with another company with competitive products where research and development may play an important role.

The universities and colleges, therefore, are in such position to make improvements on existing products and discover new ones through its research and development activities. This is one of the major reasons why the government encourages its faculty to engage in research. Ultimately, the aim is to be able to provide for the needs of its major clientele – the general public.

© 2012 November 10 P. A. Regoniel

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