Innovators have the potential to create jobs, products and technologies that improve and transform lives. Innovation is at the heart of what many scientists do – unearthing discoveries and finding ways to apply them in business and society.

Across the globe, innovation is estimated to be worth $1.6 trillion**. In Australia, Government and Industry support for innovation is strong. The National Innovation and Science Agenda plans to take Australia into the top tier of innovation nations by 2030**. 

Careers in Innovation

Innovators work across all sectors that rely on continuous improvement for their success.STEM areas including Aviation, Data Science, Microbiology, Astronomy and Biotechnology are all based on innovation.

Many organisations require constant evolution of their products and services to stay competitive. The development of new technologies and solutions is facilitated by innovation professionals or Research and Development (R&D) departments. Within these departments are professionals who focus on developing new concepts as part of a multi-disciplinary team.

An R&D Manager can lead research projects, monitor research and development strategies and oversee leading-edge developments in the sector.

Not all innovators work for large organisations or within teams. Some innovators leverage their entrepreneurial skills to market new ideas through their own start-ups. 

Relevant Roles

  • Research and Development Manager
  • Innovation Consultant
  • Director of Innovation
  • Chief Innovation Officer
  • Service Designer
  • Research and Development Lead
  • Program Director
  • Business Development Lead
  • Product Manager
  • Entrepreneur

Career Paths at UNSW

If you’re interested in the exciting possibilities of a career as an innovator, UNSW Science is a great starting point. Our degrees have plenty of subject areas to choose from so you can develop specialised knowledge in an area that’s relevant to your future career.

UNSW Science provides opportunities to develop your own entrepreneurial and leadership skills to help you turn your innovative ideas into fully-fledged companies. Programs such as the UNSW Founders Program will provide you with career-ready skills that you can apply in any entrepreneurial or innovation profession. UNSW also supports budding innovators through in-depth STEM education and additional development programs such as UNSW Advantage.

Students can also take part in Innovation for Value Creation and Growth, a 10-week blended learning unit providing crucial skills for a career in innovation. This program includes strategies for growth taught through hands-on learning. The entrepreneurial skills and knowledge you learn can be used in your own startup.

UNSW Science undergraduate degrees offer a flexible approach to unlocking innovation alongside science. From science fundamentals like Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Mathematics, to interdisciplinary specialisations such as Material Sciences, Life Sciences and Data Science. With Science you can approach your choice of study from a range of different angles.  

A double degree will help you diversify your knowledge, so you can acquire other skills you may need in a career as an innovator. You can choose from 37 programs of study in Science while exploring subject areas in other faculties such as Business, Law and Arts and Social Sciences.

The Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) is a popular degree for those pursuing a career in innovation. Designed for talented students who want to tailor their degree to suit their interests, the degree includes foundation courses in subjects such as Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Maths. You can then choose one or two majors where you’ll pursue in-depth study in an area that’s relevant to you.

Innovation professionals often build on their interests and knowledge with postgraduate study. Graduate Certificates and Graduate Diplomas are the first stages of postgraduate study and can offer a pathway to a Master’s degree. Some postgraduate degrees are also available in a flexible online format that you can tailor around your work commitments. Many of these programs have been developed with extensive industry consultation.

We offer specialist postgraduate degrees in the following areas:

If you’re interested in research degrees at the highest levels, you should consider a Masters by Research or a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree.

Where Our Graduates Work


Aaron Birkby

 "My science degree with UNSW provided me with a framework for analytical thinking, an insight into the history of invention and problem solving, and in some ways, the mental resilience to see things through to completion. Beyond the theoretical knowledge of physics and mathematics, I have utilised and continued to develop these softer, human skills throughout my career in entrepreneurship, innovation, and human transformation. What I love about my current role is similarly taking individuals and teams on their own transformative growth journeys and development of their own soft skills."

Aaron Birkby - Human Transformation Architect at Tribe Global
UNSW Bachelor of Science alumni