This paper studies the innovation productivity of academic researchers across their career advancement. Taking patents and invention disclosures as indicators of innovation productivity and using survey data from a large German public research organization, researchers’ productivity is examined during early career and early to mid-career across various dimensions, including years since employment, years since terminal degree and age. The extant literature has primarily focused on publishing productivity of researchers. Results show that early leadership position consistently enhances innovation productivity during the life cycle. However, the effects of the other dimensions differ somewhat. Interestingly, having a doctoral degree enables one to overcome the disadvantages of being a female researcher, and German citizen increases productivity for the overall sample and for early to mid-career researchers.