Experiential Innovation

Convert opportunities into impactful research outcomes





Northeastern’s Experiential Innovation program introduces a framework for presenting research projects, with the goal of increasing interdisciplinary collaboration and proposal successes rates and fostering high-impact research.

The Experiential Innovation program helps research teams identify important opportunities, convert those opportunities into successful new proposals, and produce sustainable research products or innovations.

Experiential Innovation workshops use a team’s current project as the basis to learn new value-creation concepts and approaches to applying them, and then enhance the team’s presentation of research objectives based on peer feedback.

The NABC Method:

Proposal review criteria vary across the broad range of agencies and organizations that fund research, yet share common core elements. Proposals for fundamental and applied research, technology commercialization, and development of new programs or services can all be strengthened by addressing four fundamental elements: Needs, Approach, Benefits, and Competition, or “NABC”. Experiential Innovation’s NABC framework trains researchers to address these elements clearly, quantitatively, and convincingly in order to develop successful proposals for funding.

Need: What important problem are you attempting to solve? What challenges or limitations have prevented the problem from being solved to date?

The unmet need may represent a gap in current knowledge or a gap in existing solutions to a specific challenge, and is something that a sponsor wants to fund. In some cases, the need can be addressed through fundamental research; other needs may be best addressed through applied research, innovation, or solutions implementation.

Approach: How will the team conduct research that addresses the identified need? What makes the proposed approach unique?

This section of the proposal should explain how specific contributions of each member of the team will be integrated to lead to new knowledge development and/or solutions to priority challenges. The approach section should identify strategies to deliver solutions to key stakeholders.

Benefits/Costs: What is the value of the proposed solution to the identified need?

This section should provide clear rationale for funding the project by describing benefits of the proposed project in terms of societal benefits and/or contribution to scientific understanding. The proposers must also  clearly present a budget for the project and justify expenses.

Competition: Are there other ways the need could be satisfied? What makes this team uniquely well qualified to address the need?

Researchers should identify other teams or institutions working on similar projects and identify what unique attributes set their team apart. This section can also be used to discuss alternative methodologies or approaches to addressing the identified need.

Northeastern’s Experiential Innovation program was developed and piloted by Dr. Curt Carlson and Dr. Len Polizzotto. The Research Development team periodically offers Experiential Innovation training sessions and works to develop resources to support faculty in applying this framework to their proposals for research funding, including for TIER 1 proposals.


Contact Research Development:

177 Huntington Ave | Boston MA, 02115