Accounting guidance requires companies to capitalize assets acquired in a business combination that will be used in research & development (R&D) activities. IPR&D assets are treated as indefinite-lived until completion or abandonment of the R&D efforts. During this time, the assets are subject to impairment testing requirements under Accounting Standards Codification 350 (ASC 350).
Intangible assets that may involve R&D activities include:
- R&D efforts to be continued by the acquirer
- Defensive assets
- Licensed-out intangible assets with active involvement
- Temporarily idled assets
For the R&D activity to be deemed an asset, the project must meet the ASC 805 asset recognition criteria. Additionally, the R&D activity should exhibit persuasive evidence of having “substance” and being “incomplete” as of the valuation date.
Further, separately identifiable IPR&D assets that share similar characteristics may be segregated into a single unit of account. When determining the unit of account, the following characteristics of R&D assets may be considered:
- Phase of development
- Nature of activities and costs necessary to further develop the related IPR&D project
- Risks associated with further development
- Amount and timing of benefits expected
- Expected economic life of the developed assets
- Intention to manage costs for developed assets separately or on a combined basis
- Expectation for the asset to be transferred by itself or with other separately identifiable assets
While there are three primary approaches for valuing IPR&D assets including cost, market and income approaches, the cost and income approaches are most widely used.