Research Innovation Sprints


A six-week liftoff for your organisation

Evolving in today’s market is all about embracing change and forging ahead with innovative solutions. For many traditional businesses and government departments, adaptation can be a challenge, often weighed down by bureaucratic processes and entrenched organisational structures. However, a powerful solution is emerging as the go-to strategy for those looking to infuse their operations with a wave of creativity and innovation — the Research Innovation Sprint.

Our Research Innovation Sprints bring together researchers, industry partners, end-users and stakeholders to tackle specific problems and develop practical solutions. First, we work side-by-side with the industry partner to define the problem, collecting data to understand user and stakeholder needs. Then we brainstorm and co-design solutions and select the best ones. This is where we tap into our academic research. After this, we create prototypes and test them with end-users. Finally, we provide the solution to the client for implementation. But there’s no “handover” – we literally lock ourselves in the same room with partner organisations during each sprint. We’re down in the trenches, rather than up in the ivory tower. 

Prof Marek Kowalkiewicz 

What happens during a Research Innovation Sprint?

A Research Innovation Sprint is not just a sped-up version of the traditional innovation process. It follows a set of methodologies and applies the principles of rapid iteration, flexibility, and collaboration to the realm of business innovation. The objective is to accelerate the development of tangible solutions, validate hypotheses, and advance knowledge within a condensed timeline. By applying a variety of design and innovation methodologies, each Sprint is run as a six-week program broken into three phases.

Phase 1 | Pre-Sprint (two weeks): The Sprint journey begins with the inception meeting between QUT design experts and leaders within your organisation. Here we delve into the intricacies of the Sprint’s objectives with you, dissecting the problem at hand. During this crucial Pre-Sprint stage, our focus sharpens on defining the Sprint’s goals and the breadth of its application. Together we handpick the most potent ideation and validation techniques tailored to your project.

Phase 2 | Sprint (two weeks): During the Sprint phase, we navigate through ‘problem divergence’, a process where diverse perspectives collide, leading to ‘concept convergence’. During this process the Sprint team ventures into multiple digital landscapes, all customer-centric, sketching the outlines of future possibilities linked to the present opportunity. What follows is an imaginative exercise in crafting tangible concepts designed to leap off the drawing board and into reality. Pivotally, the nature of the Sprint is sculpted by the unique needs of your organisation, meaning no two Sprints are the same. Our ultimate ambition crystallizes into the creation of a proof-of-concept—whether in product innovation, service enhancement, process streamlining, strategic overhaul, or system design—all within the Sprint’s compact timeline. Sprints are intentionally undertaken in an environment that is free from the distractions of normal business practice to foster creative ideas and strategic thought.

Phase 3 | Post-Sprint (two weeks): As the Sprint draws to a close, the transformative results are passed onto your organisation. We equip you with a forward-looking vision, refined concepts rooted in deep customer understanding, an actionable presentation, and a meticulously prepared report to champion your newly adopted perspectives. The Post-Sprint phase encapsulates the entirety of the Sprint’s methodology, including stakeholder workshops, insightful interview data, innovative prototypes, and proven concepts. This phase is not merely reflective but also instrumental in constructing a common language among your diverse stakeholders and aligning the moving parts of your organisation. This conclusive phase of the Sprint ensures your organisation is not only ready to defend its new direction but also to soar with it.



What types of Sprints can my organisation undertake?

Research Innovation Sprints are tailored to suit your organisation’s needs and objectives. Below are the four types of Sprints we offer at QUT. Each is designed to yield specific insights and outcomes to propel your business forward. We will work with you to determine which Sprint is best suited to your needs, after which we will co-design clear goals, bring together a skilled cross-functional team, and ensure findings are actionable and aligned with the overall business strategy.


Ecosystem Sprints

Goal | Map, design and refine new (eco)systems

Ecosystem Sprints look across various organisation and actor clusters to understand shared drivers, functions, resources, and information flows. It develops strategies and initiatives for socio-technical system establishment, utilisation, maturity, reach, transition, and cessation. This Sprint provides an actionable framework and report describing and mapping system changes.

Strategy Sprints

Goal | Review, design and test new organisational strategies

Strategy Sprints prepare organisations and governments for future growth, disruption, and sustainability by creating new value, business models, and market opportunities. The Sprint team works closely with business leaders to align organisational vision with new technologies and emerging trends to test and refine strategic directions and supporting initiatives. This Sprint provides an actionable framework/solution strategy roadmap and report.

Process Sprints

Goal | Review, design and test new business processes

Process Sprints assess organisational systems, capabilities, and processes and identify opportunities for enhancement. In addition, Process Sprints integrate with digital transformation programs and provide broad internal education and engagement in the development of process changes. This Sprint provides an actionable process framework/solution roadmap and report.

Product/Service Design Sprints

Goal | Design and test products and services

Product/Service Design Sprints work closely with customers and stakeholders to develop insights to understand latent market and user needs. Innovative product and service concepts are developed, prototyped, and tested with stakeholders, delivering proof-of-concept designs ready for further development. This Sprint provides an actionable report of these designs. 


What kinds of organisations undertake Research Innovation Sprints?

The reasons for adopting Sprints in the private and public sectors are as diverse as the entities themselves. High-stakes challenges such as climate change, healthcare access, and national security demand novel solutions at warp speed. Since 2015 we have worked with 40+ organisations on Research Innovation Sprints including state government agencies, local government departments, financial service providers, businesses and manufacturers.


SPRINT SNAPSHOT | Examples of clients and concepts from our Sprint portfolio


SPRINT SNAPSHOT | Examples of past Sprint reports

Ready to innovate with QUT?

Embarking on a Research Innovation Sprint with QUT is an exhilarating opportunity to propel your business forward. Your next step is to connect with the QUT team here at the Centre for Future Enterprise by emailing From there we will guide you through the application process, connect you with the appropriate resources, and help set the wheels in motion for your innovation journey. Remember, the pathway to innovation starts with a single step—take that step with QUT today.

For more information, contact Design Sprint facilitators, Prof Marek Kowalkiewicz and Peter Townson. |