Innovation usually involves the combination of ideas derived from many different places. Innovation is also affected by wider social, cultural, political, and economic factors. These include contributions made by cities and regions, government policies, and the ‘systems of innovation’ organizations belong and contribute to. ‘Stephanie Kwolek’s new polymer: from labs to riches’ considers the various contributors to innovation: entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, research and development departments, customers and suppliers, collaborative partners, universities, and relationships with government. The case of Stephanie Kwolek and her product Kevlar epitomizes the corporate R&D department’s contribution to innovation, but also highlights its shortcomings; the polymer took eighteen years to develop.