Institute for Future

Transforming innovation systems


Our research tackles the grand economic, social and environmental challenges facing the world this century. We are addressing real-world challenges by investigating how to transform innovation systems. Effective innovation systems can solve a wide range of problems for industry and society by introducing new technologies, techniques and systems.

Real-world trends

The innovation system - the path from discovery to deployment - is not working as well as it could in Australia. Many businesses and organisations do not have ready access to the knowledge and skills they need to be innovators.

Asset-intensive industries, such as the energy and resources industries, are not well served by innovation research or practice, but are eager to be more innovative and increase their rate of technological change.

Despite the myriad electronic collaboration tools available, distance still often stifles the innovation process within Australia, and between Australia and the rest of the world.

Grand challenges

The grand challenges Australia must address in relation to innovation systems are:

  • developing the capacity of Australian businesses and organisations to change and innovate faster, so that they remain competitive in a rapidly changing world
  • streamlining the innovation system so that research efforts are not wasted and research breakthroughs benefit society more quickly
  • increasing engagement between industry and the research sector in Australia.

Our research strategy


Our research is designed to drive these changes in the real world:

  • Australian industries have more resilient revenue streams
  • Australia focuses more research and development (R&D) resources on projects that matter
  • connected innovation is no longer impeded by distance.


We are investigating how to:

  • initiate, conduct and deliver research more effectively so that innovations can be evaluated and adopted more easily by industry, governments, and the public
  • develop university-industry relationships that generate new research opportunities and innovation pathways
  • help businesses and organisations to develop sustainable revenue streams while still experimenting, adapting and exploiting opportunities
  • change business processes, business models, industry structures, and regulatory frameworks to support innovation
  • develop innovation management methods that more tightly link research programs to the needs of governments, markets and society.


We draw on the broad expertise of QUT's six faculties, assembling teams of researchers from different disciplines to work on large-scale projects relating to our natural, built and virtual environments.

Enabling platform leader

Domain leaders

Leadership team

QUT Business School

Creative Industries Faculty

Faculty of Law

Science and Engineering Faculty

Knowledge to Innovation Broker


Our research is focused on creating real-world change by:

  • improving the revenue resilience of Australia’s industries by creating more profitable value networks between industry and universities
  • using digital technologies to enable innovation by connecting people and organisations, thereby overcoming the barrier of distance
  • helping Australia focus on research and development projects that matter.

To achieve these impacts, we will:

  • catalyse innovation in ‘slow clockspeed’ industries
  • improve the science of innovation
  • change the way we assess the impact of research and innovation.

Catalysing innovation in ‘slow clockspeed’ industries

Asset-intensive industries such as the mining and energy sectors play a large and strategically vital role in the Australian economy, but have frequently struggled with technological change. Unique industry dynamics and specific organisational hurdles have historically made it harder for these ‘slow clockspeed’ industries to develop and deploy new technologies despite their pronounced need for more innovation.

Our expertise

QUT has deep research expertise in these sectors and strong relationships with external collaborators, including the Asset Institute and METS Ignited. By leveraging these research strengths and relationships, we will be able to develop fresh approaches and ideas for innovation that improve the pace and effectiveness of technology development and deployment within Australia’s mining, energy and other asset-intensive sectors.

Improving the science of innovation

For many, the term ‘innovation’ conjures images of flip charts, brainstorming sessions and workshops led by a trained facilitator to find solutions to shared problems. While face-to-face communication is likely to always play an important role in the innovation process, combining it with digital tools and the science of collaboration could help improve innovation on several fronts.

Digitally facilitated innovation mirrors the new reality of how people are connecting via social media and other digital communication channels. New platforms like Quirky have emerged to facilitate some parts of the innovation process digitally, but these early forays are just the beginning. By augmenting the human dimensions of innovation with digital media, Australia can make headway on overcoming the 'tyranny of distance' and participate more prominently in global innovation processes. This will also help people living in Australia's regional areas to overcome geographical barriers.

We are also identifying current analytical and mathematical tools that could be applied and repurposed to improve how innovation happens. Key examples are operations research, design structure matrices (DSMs) and business process modelling (BPM).

Our expertise

QUT has significant research expertise in this area within the QUT Business School, Creative Industries Faculty, world-class Business Process Modelling Group, award-winning School of Mathematical Sciences and QUT-based PwC Chair in Digital Economy.

Changing the way we assess the impact of research and innovation

While the number and sophistication of research projects that could be pursued is steadily expanding, we simply don't have the resources to chase after every question. Identifying which research projects will be able to deliver the most value to society has initiated vibrant discussion among policymakers, universities, and the communities they serve about how we measure the impact of research and development (R&D) and innovation.

QUT and the Australian Government have both committed to changing how we think about and assess the impact of innovation, but many questions still remain. To lay the groundwork for this shift, we are working with key partners to understand:

  • how to deliver the culture change that underpins the shift in how an organisation thinks about and assesses research impact
  • what approaches to measuring and managing research impact have been tried around the world
  • how to develop more impact-focused institutional governance mechanisms and structures.

Our expertise

QUT is collaborating with CSIRO to shine light on these aspects of research impact, and to ensure that Australian universities and researchers lead the way in the change of research culture that is unfolding around the world.

Partnership enquiries

Contact Raymond Johnson, our Knowledge to Innovation Broker, about research partnership opportunities with us.