Innovation science: From intuition to empiricism


Innovation is often depicted as a creative, “out-of-the-box” thinking process in which novel ideas emerge and diffuse incessantly. In reality, many organisations fail to generate and capitalise on novelty effectively, making them see innovation as a risky, costly and unpredictable business function. It is not surprising, then, that innovation productivity has decreased consistently over the last decades globally. We argue that the innovation productivity problem lies in the lack of rigorous approaches to conduct innovation across the organisation in a way that decreases uncertainty. While creativity is key to innovation, it must be conducted within systematic processes that minimise individual bias and maximise evidence-based discovery – just like science. In this work-in-progress paper, we propose Innovation Science as a complementary practice for organisations to manage innovation initiatives effectively. We build on four cases of global corporations derived from a systematic search for companies with track records of successful innovations representing four different innovation models. Drawing on secondary data, we found evidence of science-based approaches supporting innovation activities in all four cases, helping us derive the following four features of Innovation Science: (1) a knowledge discovery purpose, (2) scientific principles disseminated across units, (3) established processes based on the scientific method, (4) combined use of different scientific reasonings. Other practices such as Management Science and Data Science have shown the potential of the scientific approach for business value creation, and our research shows that Innovation Science might not be any different.


Dr Edgar Brea



Edgar Brea is a Research Fellow at the QUT Business School and at the UQ Business School. He has over 15 years of consulting and research experience in the areas of strategy, technology and innovation management. He has worked for and with organisations from a variety of industries including banking, oil and gas, bioinformatics, as well as science organisations such as the CSIRO. Edgar’s research focuses on the management of innovation processes within and between organisations. In particular, he explores ways to improve innovation productivity and performance, including: 1) adoption of artificial intelligence to enhance knowledge search, generation and management; 2) novel measures for innovation activity using big data and analytics; 3) development of innovation models that increase the certainty and effectiveness of the innovation function in organisations.



Location: GP-B114 BoQ;
Start Date: 04/08/2021 [add to calendar]
Start Time: 12 noon
End Date: 04/08/2021
End Time: 1 pm
RSVP By: Tuesday 3rd of August 2021
Organiser: Centre for Future Enterprise