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Dr Sarah Pearson, El Capitano, CBR Innovation Network

Dr Sarah Pearson is a globally recognised practitioner and advocate of 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 holds positions on 10 Boards, panels and committees.

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 this effective and efficient approach in industrial, research, government and social innovation applications.

Sarah 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. Sarah has designed and overseen a broad suite of offerings to the innovation community, including an accelerator program, support for small business, a network for entrepreneurs, 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.

Sarah works closely with the CBR’s foundation members, including the Australian National University, the University of Canberra, CSIRO, and NICTA. She maintains a strong relationship with the project‘s key sponsor, the ACT Government, and works with the business community to find the gaps that need to be filled.

Sarah’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 academic, with the support of several prestigious national grants.

Sarah’s skills as a mentor and science communicator opened a new direction in industrial innovation. As the inaugural Open Innovation Champion at Cadbury, she became 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, Sarah accepted a senior post as 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.

Sarah 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.

Sarah 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.