The new department, called Imagine, will create content ideas, including new formats as well as new technological opportunities and partnerships across the business.
Imagine will be encouraged to engage in 'lateral thinking' about the company, in a bid to ape research and development teams at big multinational companies such as Apple and Walt Disney.
Imagine, apparently the brainchild of ITV chief executive Charles Allen, comes about as a direct result of the findings of the Fast Forward initiative, which led to the management overhaul at ITV network centre last year.
The management of the new unit has yet to be confirmed but Imagine will report to ITV commercial director Ian McCulloch.
A senior source told Broadcast: 'The pace of change is accelerating and we need to get more competitive. It is about innovation across all parts of the business.
'We can look at the properties that make a difference like X-Factorand ask what we could do better, like exploiting the way it is packaged.'