Despite the widely held belief of the importance of innovation, the connection between innovation and firm performance is empirically inconclusive, partially owing to the limitations of existing innovation measures, which tend to ignore the effectiveness of innovation programs. In this study, we use the winning of innovation awards as a proxy for the effective execution of innovation. We conducted event-study analyses based on data from more than 1000 publicly traded firms that won innovation awards between 1998 and 2003. Our statistical tests provide strong evidence that the performance of award-winning firms is significantly higher as compared with several sets of control firms. Over an 8-year period, starting from 4 years before to 3 years after the year of winning the first innovation award, the test sample's mean (median) change in return on assets is nearly 33% (24%) higher than that of a control sample. The evidence also suggests that effective innovation programs can increase firms' revenue, cost efficiency, and market valuation. Over the period, the control-adjusted mean (median) change in sales, cost per dollar of sales, and Tobin's Q are 39.28% (20.71%), −5.52% (−3.80%), and 23.70% (3.16%), respectively. Panel data regression analysis provides additional insights on the performance impact of effective innovation programs. The results show that award winners are not only financially more successful but also enjoy an indirect benefit through better R&D execution, which increases firm profitability in both the short term and long term.