Gambling on Innovation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The purpose of this article is to provide a method for choosing an innovation portfolio, which is based on a simple and fundamental result from information theory. Given a set of innovation projects, estimated payoffs and probabilities of success for each, and an established capital fund, the question is "How much should one invest in each project in order to maximize the growth and reduce the risk of going bust?"That is, how should innovation leaders gamble on their innovation projects? The question is part of the process design for innovation processes. The concept in this article is especially important for early-stage innovation projects, where the probability of success is often <50%. As a heuristic, for p = 50%, one needs a payoff of b = 4 to achieve a 25% median compound annual growth rate. This article provides an algorithm to guide investment decisions in innovation, plus some heuristics that can be used for guidance. It also emphasizes the critical importance of estimating both the probabilities of success and the payoffs for projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7689-7699
Number of pages11
JournalIndustrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 26 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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