Research and development 101


A strong research and development (R&D) focus allows individuals, businesses, industries and the world to rise up against mediocrity and achieve greatness. Technological advancements happen because of R&D efforts, and without the numerous innovators throughout history who believed that the printing press could be improved, we may still be printing on converted wine presses.

R&D is all about discovering new ways to innovate a product or process, and then converting that knowledge into action. Innovation is the focus of R&D, but innovation without a clear purpose is ineffective. It is a process of striving for constant improvement, and to fill a need in the marketplace that’s integral. Knowing that a current product or service offering is not perfect, and learning how to make it better for their clients is a critical R&D concept.

In-Action Example: Hadi Mahabadi

Most participants in the graphic arts industry recognize Hadi Mahabadi’s name due to his outstanding achievements in the area of research and development in our industry. Mahabadi is the vice-president of the Xerox Research Centre of Canada (XRCC) for Xerox Corporation. His strong R&D focus largely stems from his PhD in the discipline of polymer engineering from the University of Waterloo and has helped lead to the creation of breakthrough technologies in the areas of toner and solid ink. Mahabadi was instrumental in the development of Emulsion Aggregation (EA) technology, which was a revolution in toner technology and became commercially available in 2001. This new-age toner is based on nano-technology and means that Xerox’s customers can print twice as much with this toner as compared to traditional toners.

For his R&D efforts, Mahabadi has been presented with numerous awards, including recognition as being one of the Top 25 Canadian Immigrants of the Year in 2010. He holds over 80 US patents, in addition to 120 International patents, has published an astonishing 100 scientific papers and has presented at several major conferences around the world. Mahabadi is an example of great R&D achievement in the graphic arts industry.



SID: Sächsisches Institut für die Druckindustrie – Research, Development & Consulting Services for the Printing Industry (

SID is a research and development firm for small and medium-sized printing companies, which has been operating since 1990. Its service offerings include solutions for the entire print workflow, such as machine construction, print operations and prepress. Examples of print research projects SID has worked on in the past include de-inking of newsprint, RFID antenna printing and re-writable printing plates. SID maintains a strong network of institutional education and industry research partners to ensure the successful completion of projects.


NspiRD – R&D Management Blog (

Dr. Sandeep Mehta, who is an R&D veteran and holds a MS, MBA, and Ph.D in the field of engineering, maintains this R&D blog. Mehta understands the needs of large R&D organizations because of his experience managing large R&D portfolios. His blog focuses on the “challenges, best practices and trends in R&D Management,” whereby he analyzes R&D practices from a number of angles. This articles including: “Enhanced R&D Risk Management,” “Apple R&D and Steve Jobs Methodology: Engaged Leader” and “More Proof That Innovation is a Buzz Word.” This blog is a must-read resource for anyone interested in R&D management.


The Smart Organization: Creating Value Through Strategic R&D by David Matheson & James E. Matheson

Retail Price: $45.00 (Hardcover)

This 304-page research and development resource guide examines why some organizations can deliver numerous successful products and services, and others fail to compete. The book focuses on what the authors call “the nine interlocking principles of smart R&D,” whereby an organization makes good strategic decisions at the right time. Best-in-industry examples showcase the nine principles at work and demonstrate how successfully implemented R&D programs can create successful organizations. The relevance of the book is achieved by the well-researched nature of the publication itself. Rating: 5 starts out of 5 (8 reviews)

Organizational growth and success relies on discovering innovation through R&D processes. Achievement-oriented businesses understand the past, work in the now and think in the future.

Top Five Research & Development Insights

1. Tim Berners-Lee (World Wide Web Founder): “People keep asking me what I think of it now that it’s done. Hence my protest: The Web is not done!”

2. Steve Jobs (Apple Inc): “Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

3. Albert Einstein: “One should never impose one’s views on a problem; one should rather study it, and in time a solution will reveal itself.”

4. Jeffrey Immelt (General Electric): “The only source of profit, the only reason to invest in companies in the future is their ability to innovate and their ability to differentiate.”

5. Thomas Edison: “When I have finally decided that a result is worth getting, I go ahead on it and make trial after trial until it comes.”


Diana Varma is an Instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University and the Owner of ON-SITE First Aid & CPR Training Group, a health & safety company that provides training to the Graphic Arts Industry.