Dr Sarah Pearson
CEO CBR Innovation Network Ltd
Dr Sarah Pearson is a globally recognised practitioner and advocate of innovation, especially Open Innovation. She works at the interface of industry, government and research, with experience in all sectors and a capacity to cross the divides. She is passionate about a new Australian economy of ideas. Her methods are widely emulated and her advice is influential in the many communities she has served. She has driven innovation strategy and practice in both corporate, research and government arenas, nationally and internationally, and is passionate about helping Australia benefit from effective and efficient approaches in industrial, research, government and social innovation applications.
Dr Pearson is currently the CEO of the newly formed CBR Innovation Network Ltd. This company captures Canberra’s potential as a clever, creative and connected city. Dr Pearson has designed and overseen a broad suite of offerings to the innovation community, including a network for entrepreneurs, innovative programs for youth, provision of co-working space and an accelerator program, development of an incubator program, support for small business, and activities encouraging students to studying science and mathematics.
She is the public face of ACT innovation and a prominent advocate for the ACT in national and international forums. Dr Pearson is also a board director and member on 10 boards, panels and committees covering innovation, manufacturing, industry peak bodies, social innovation, angel investment and STEM support.
Dr Pearson’s interest in innovation was kindled as a strategic management consultant at McKinsey & Co in Sydney. With a DPhil in particle physics from the University of Oxford, she connected easily with high-tech industries powered by R&D. She went on to develop and patent new methods for cancer diagnosis as a tenured physics academic, with the support of several prestigious national grants.
Dr Pearson’s industrial innovation experience came via the inaugural Open Innovation Champion at Cadbury, where she was an early pioneer of a new approach to harnessing ideas. Her philosophy of reaching out – to consumers, researchers and industry partners – transformed her team from a small UK-based operation to a highly influential global unit.
Returning to Australia, Dr Pearson took on the role of Director of Science in the Office of the Chief Scientist where she managed teams of in-house and external advisors. She facilitated the flow of advice to government; managed the Expert Working Groups and Secretariat for the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council; and supported the Chief Scientist’s public advocacy role.
Dr Pearson was later recruited to establish a new knowledge transfer unit within ANU Enterprise – ANU Edge. Her success resulted in promotion to CEO of the Enterprise group of companies, which she turned from loss to profit within two years, selling part of the company and purchasing another.
Dr Pearson has published extensively through TV, radio, books, journals, magazines and newspapers, and is an author on eight international patents, for cancer diagnosis and novel confectionary.