When you look hard enough, you discover the business world boasts brilliant stories of cross-industry innovation. They are tales of companies that have solved an issue or created an entirely new product or service by borrowing an idea from an industry that is, at first glance, completely unrelated. ​

There's the food production company that solved a shelf-life problem for its whipped-cream-in-a-can product by seeking input from fire extinguisher manufacturers. Or the craft beer brewing business that created a new taste sensation – ale with a hint of honey – when its owner found himself in the same tattoo studio as a beekeeper.

​And then there's the air-conditioning company that solved a performance issue with its cold-temperature pipes when it adopted a solution created long ago for use in refrigerated food trucks.

​But you do have to look hard to find such stories.

Now a group of researchers from UNSW Business School, in the first year of a project funded by the Australian Research Council and linkage partner GE Capital Australasia, has begun to reveal some of the secrets of innovation within mid-market companies (A$10 million to A$250 million annual turnover).

The overarching task of the team, led by associate professor Steven Lui​, is to connect the way a company's CEO thinks – the CEO's cognitive abilities – to the way their firm behaves in terms of innovation.

Read the full story on the Business Think website.