(Study how R&D is positioned to help the firm grow in a changing economic environment)
For several years, the importance of positioning R&D in a way to increase its contribution to a firm's growth was cited repeatedly in surveys of technical leaders conducted by IRI. A subcommittee was created to identify factors and practices in R&D management that differentiate high- and low-growth firms. Interviews have been conducted by faculty of the University of Quebec to obtain insights from technical leaders in over 70 firms here and abroad on innovation practices that have enabled their firms to achieve growth. Growth is defined by such measures as market valuation, return on investment, intellectual-property creation, and sales from new products. Initial results of the interviews were presented in a Special Interest Session at the 2001 IRI Annual Meeting. The theme of that meeting, "New Pathways to Innovation," reflected the continuing interest of IRI members in this topic. Further work is underway to create a database from the interviews and develop a self-assessment tool that correlates R&D structure and practices with business performance across a variety of industry sectors. A firm's self assessment can then be benchmarked against the database. One or more publications are planned to report on this project in detail.