Abstract Innovation is often left to insight and serendipity. A lot of what researchers call innovation is actually a process by which one can make the individual consumer or practitioner more ‘creative’. Although it is important to work with the creative individual in hopes of coming up with the better ‘idea’ and new product/service opportunity, an equally valid albeit novel and counterintuitive approach systematizes creativity in a ‘research-driven machine’. This paper presents an approach to the systematization, based upon the point of view that creativity and innovation comprise the recombination of components into new blends. Given this point of view, to then spur innovation requires a systematic database that the user can access, with tools to help manipulate that database. The paper shows how such a database can be constructed and then used to create a novel product. The approach provides a general framework for the sensory professional to become more involved in the early stages of product development, where the focus is on the conceptual aspects of food features rather than on their physical manifestations in actual products.