The criterion of scientific or technological advancement is defined as: "... the incorporation, by means of experimental development, of a characteristic (capability), not previously existing or available in standard practice, into a new or existing process or product that enhances its performance"
The definition goes on to suggest that novelty, uniqueness, or innovation alone does not indicate the existence of a technological advancement as this can be achieved by applying well understood concepts to a new situation where there the outcome or success of the activity is reasonable assured.
Scientific or Technological Uncertainty:
Scientific or technological uncertainty can occur in either of two ways: (a) It may be uncertain whether the goals can be achieved at all; or (b) The claimant may be fairly confident that the goals can be achieved, but may be uncertain which of several alternatives (i.e., paths, routes, approaches, equipment configurations, system architectures, circuit techniques, etc.) will either work at all, or be feasible in order to meet the desired specifications and/or cost targets. In (a), the uncertainty is due to insufficient technological knowledge. SR&ED is the process undertaken to advance the technological knowledge to eliminate the uncertainty.
In (b), the definition suggests that the technical objective can be met in a number of ways, even when the claimant is fairly certain of success in meeting the technical goals of the project. For example, there may be uncertainty about which of the several alternative approaches to the problem will work, or which will achieve the product cost targets. Therefore, all approaches may have to be tried. There may also be uncertainty about which of the several alternative approaches will achieve the desired specifications and the product cost targets. The definition recognizes that, while most experimental development can succeed in a technical sense given an infinite amount of time and money, attempting to achieve a particular cost target can at times create a technological challenge which needs to be resolved.
Business risk relating to the project's success or failure in the marketplace is not relevant to project eligibility.
Scientific and Technical Content
Basically this means that the claimant attempts to resolve the technical uncertainties in a systematic manner, using appropriately knowledgeable people and maintains contemporaneous documentation showing:
details about their hypothesis/theories/planned approach for resolving the uncertainty,