As the boundaries of the design profession expand so must the research paradigms scaffolding them. This paper explores two trans-disciplinary PhD research projects - both broadly aimed at exploring design value in business. The first case study reports on the implementation of the design-led innovation within an airport corporation. The second case study reports on the development of an emotional business model. Each case study involved a designer, become researcher, working within industry to formulate, test and evaluate the changing role of their own design practice. The outcome of this paper is a proposition that the next phase of design will see more hybrid design capability required, such these two ‘Design Innovation Catalysts’ in order to provide value to industry and academia alike. The unique capabilities of such a new hybrid design catalyst are presented through the case study comparison, providing implications for future research directions aligning to the design movement.