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Roles and Responsibilities in Innovation Programs

Posted 2 years ago

Innovation programs extend far beyond an Innovation Manager… but who else do you need in the team? We’ve compiled a list of the key roles needed to deliver successful innovation programs, and their responsibilities.


From an ongoing innovation program perspective, the following roles provide senior leadership and mid-level delivery support.

Executive Program Sponsor
This is a senior executive role, responsible for driving innovation and corporate strategy, and establishing an organisational culture of innovation.

Innovation Manager or Program Leader
This is a leadership or management role, responsible for driving the innovation program. It’s a hands-on role, and the incumbent may be responsible for leading a team of innovation managers in larger organisations.

Innovation Initiative/Challenge Manager
This role is responsible for owning and driving specific innovation challenges or projects, and usually reports back to the program leader.


Each separate innovation initiative or challenge may also require additional team members.

Challenge Sponsor
A senior leader or executive who provides budget and resources for incubating high risk innovation projects. They can also serve as the unofficial champion of the project, garnering internal support from senior key stakeholders within the organisation.

Initiative/Challenge Administrator
A representative of the business unit, who is responsible for executing on pipeline management and follow- through, in partnership with the innovation team and Initiative/Challenge owner.

Initiative/Challenge Owner
An individual on the innovation team responsible for communicating the value of a project to the sponsor. He/she also records the outcomes from the implemented solution and is responsible for facilitating projects through the pipeline, to ensure all projects keep moving forward.

Individuals who submit ideas or innovations and/or collaborate with other participants to identify solutions.

Project Team Members
Individuals who are responsible for working on the projects in the incubation/proof of concept process.

Subject Matter Experts
Individuals with expertise in technical, regional or industry area, who are capable of evaluating the innovations or ideas submitted.  They may also lend their expertise in the implementation phase.


Each organisation and every project will be different. The key to bringing together a high-performing innovation team is to leverage resources from across the organisation, ensure clear and regular communication, and remember – innovation is always a team sport.


Impact Innovation’s tools, systems and training programs keep your teams engaged, fostering a culture that builds your critical in-house capability for identifying new ways of adding value and improving market share. If you’d like to find out more about our innovation consulting and strategy services, contact us today.