This paper presents as a case study, empirical research forming part of a large EPSRC-funded project to decrease new product and process development times within the UK fine chemicals industry. The work aimed to design a decision support system to evaluate competing options in such development projects. Theoretical and practical contributions from academic and industrial collaborating groups were integrated using Action Research. High levels of risk when bringing new products to market or new processes on line means that risk assessment features significantly when evaluating different project options. A key research target, and the concern of this paper, is the design and use of a risk assessment tool (RAT) to fit the context of the overall decision support system. Collectively the tools enabled the options within individual projects to be evaluated on risk and other performance dimensions. Industrialists provided a number of comprehensive case studies to test the suite of tools. Theoretical and empirical implications are discussed.