There is some merit to the concept of science collaborations having innovation tactics that can benefit the business world because of their unique circumstances. The ability to innovate furiously with the limited resources that they are traditionally given, bring a unique opportunity for business to understand an efficient form of innovation that can be modeled for great success. While the scientific collaborations, such as ATLAS at CERN, do not have to contend with customers or supply chains, the ability to generate innovative new ideas with limited grant money is astonishing and is a valuable skill that business can utilize.
While no two big experiments by international science collaboration groups are exactly alike they all share important characteristics that are inherent with innovation in business. They have a clear cut goal to achieve with a fix amount of resources. The individual design decisions are also delayed as long as possible to allow the project to become more developed and cost less overall. In contrast, business innovation traditionally tries to choose the solution early that will work and then stick with it.
The other large difference stems from the open ridicule that these large scientific projects garner. With the scientific process being one of criticism and defence, this works in the favor of developing the innovation with the toughest skin. The constant questioning and various creative inputs helps to round out the solution while it is mainly still conceptual. Each of the scientists is working in an open innovation environment that is drawing on the collective creative of their entire peer review network. This creative drive is very valuable when applied to science based problems and can be extremely profitable when applied to an innovation cycle in business.
Top companies from around the world are employing scientists to help them solve problems by innovating solutions. With their experience producing results with limited resources a PhD can be more valuable than an MBA in the innovation department. If the PhD is sufficiently motivated and the innovation is within their wheelhouse, they will find a solution; usually coming in under budget as well. The important aspect of scientific innovation that has to be present for this to be transferrable is framing the problem in a way that it is interesting to try to solve it. If there is some piece of knowledge or concept beyond merely profits, then scientists will devote a lot of brain power to the task.
Keeping the innovation team or process focused and interested will allow them to create better innovations with less resources. This may come down to how you frame the problem that needs to be solved and how interested the creative team is on that particular innovation. Hiring PhDs may seem like the solution but you should make sure that they project is interesting enough to hold their attention.