Ramblings from Gus Panella


Research vs. Applied Research vs. Development vs. Design

What is R&D…. here are some definitions to help form your thoughts.

“Basic research is an attempt to advance the frontiers of human
knowledge…It consists of the attempt to extend mankind’s
understanding and mastery of the universe, macroscopic and
microscopic, without any precise idea of the secrets that will be
uncovered or the uses to which they will be put.” [1]

Applied Research
“Applied research is the necessary successor to basic research.”
Applied research investigates ways in which to exploit the basic
research. A simple example is that of a new alloy which appears to
have a better strength to weight ratio than others available. So long
as the scientist continues to [search] for other alloys with novel
properties he is doing basic research, but if a decision is made to
investigate the possibilities of exploiting the new material, the work
becomes applied research. In basic research scientists do not know
what they are going to find: they only know the direction in which they are going to look. In applied research they know what they want and they try to discover how near to it they can get.” [1]

Development is the work that will show whether or not the applied
research will lead to new or improved products or processes. This is
where design, manufacturing and sales are involved in the generation of a “specification” at which the research organization should aim. This specification is a guideline and may change during the course of the  development activity, but the end result is typically a statement, or report, of the facts and figures from which a design team will be able to produce the drawings for a saleable product.

“Design starts from known materials and techniques, including those
recently developed, and its end-point is reached when a complete set
of drawings, instructions and schedules is available to cover the
manufacture, testing and commissioning of the final product.” [1] The
objective, in this case, is a clearly defined product with a rigid

[1] McLeod, T., “The Management of Research, Development and Design in Industry”.