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In the Pipeline:

Benchmarking surveysSuggest a topic.
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Roundtable discussionsSuggest a topic.

IRI PILOT Research Funding Scheme

This program enables individuals and organizations to apply for a small grant (up to $3k) to conduct a research project with IRI and our members.  The projects get IRI support to connect recipients with members and to engage with them throughout the project. Learn more.

Recent work:

Challenge:How can we learn from failure?
How we addressed it:Literature review, thought leader interviews, roundtable discussions, case studies
Deliverables:RTM article, video report out
Top Takeaways:Accept failure, as 95% of research is failure
Strive for better failure
Employ rigorous StageGate processes
Ask Why to identify pivot points
Overcome the stigma of failure
Culture is key: Leaders must create a safe environment
Challenge:How can we better recruit and retain early career technical talent?
How we addressed it:Literature scan, survey of early career professionals, case studies
Deliverables:video report outRTM articlePDF brochure of findings
Top Takeaways:Early and later career professionals mostly want similar things; the biggest differences with early career technical talent are a desire for:
Quicker rotation through projects and roles
Continuous feedback
Challenge:How can we improve how our virtual teams function?
How we addressed it:Review of 2014 study, roundtable discussions to update findings
Deliverable:Best Practices for Virtual R&D Teams
Top Takeaways:In a virtual environment, more effort needs to be put into ensuring that team members know:Engagement is key – Have frequent communication and check-ins, but keep interactions short.
What they are contributing, why, and how;
How their work contributes to the project and its goals; and
How their work aligns with the goals of the organization (or equivalent).
Bring in more viewpoints – Include staff from different locations and different levels in virtual brainstorming sessions.

Pilot Steering Committee

This committee supports all PILOT activities, including working groups, from inception through dissemination.  Committee members work collaboratively to experiment in processes and methods to identify best practices; provide means for idea generation to keep the pipeline full and relevant; and actively investigate mechanisms for timely, accessible and actionable deliverables.

  • Marina Despotopoulou, R&D Director, Arkema, Inc. (chair)
  • Stewart Mehlman, Director, SKM Direction, IRI Emeritus
  • Cynthia Rohde, Technology Project Team Leader, Caterpillar
  • Allyson Smith, Application Development Manager, Sonoco Products
  • Dawn Mason, Global External Innovation Manager, Eastman Chemical Company
  • Nancy Easterbrook, Director Recycled Materials, HarbisonWalker International
  • RG Iyer, Director-Technical Development, National Gypsum Company


A Research-on-Research (ROR) Subcommittee was appointed by the IRI Board of Directors in 1968, following an unsuccessful effort to convince the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish centers for research-on-research at universities in the United States. The subcommittee concluded that research-on-research was important enough to the interests of the Institute that the idea should be initiated without the support of NSF. Thus, a regular standing committee of IRI was created in 1971 to carry out research on the process of research in industry.

ROR was rolled into PILOT in January 2018 in tandem with the association’s rebranding to Innovation Research Interchange.

Interested in Membership?

Membership Lead
Please fill out the membership inquiry form below, and the an IRI team member will follow up with you within 5 business days.

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