A Framework for Assessing and Improving Decision-Making in the Translation of Research and Innovation for Impact

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Jason Scholz
Timothy E. Stroh
Joseph J. Richardson
David F. Downes
Swee L. Mak


The successful translation of research and innovation into impact has never been more important to solve the complex problems facing societies and existential threats to our planet. University research and innovation holds a key to unlock solutions. Innovation practitioners and university research translation offices seeking to support and foster promising innovations face a challenge in determining which innovations have sound prospects for development through to the market. Approaches such as mission-oriented innovation; as well as open innovation, entrepreneurial universities, and educating the educators considered in previous letters all may help, but how can we be sure that our assessments of any given initiative are sound? What are the requisites for successful translation to impact, and what tools might aid in decision making for complex endeavours?

There are many theories, tools and methods in use; yet the performance of research translation efforts at universities around the world vary wildly with only a very small number clearly successful and the vast majority, achieving at best, modest results, that are well below their expected potential.

At our university, we assembled a multidisciplinary team bringing together research translation expertise and innovation researchers with a record of entrepreneurial success to consider tools that can aid identification and assessment of promising innovations, with a view to best aligning university support. Reflecting on existing translation readiness assessment tools and practitioner knowledge, we argue that a more encompassing and dynamic framework is needed to aid universities in early and ongoing assessment of innovations to effectively steward their development and enhance their potential for success. We provide an early outline of this multi-dimensional assessment tool.

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Author Biography

Jason Scholz, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

Jason Scholz, Ph.D., GAICD, is Innovation Professor in the Research and Innovation Department, RMIT University Australia. He has over 80 publications and patents, 30 years’ experience in government research and development leadership in the decision sciences and communications, and over $100M of technology transitions into use. He has been chief scientist and engineer, and CEO of a $50M defence cooperative research centre in trusted autonomous systems which is on track to produce over $500M in new contracts for industry and deliver significant impact for Defence capability. He is also commercialisation strategist for Consunet Pty Ltd, a high technology private company.