This paper describes the development and applicability of a risk reference framework (RRF) for diagnosing risks in technological breakthrough projects. In contrast to existing risk identification strategies, the RRF centers on an integral perspective on risk (i.e. business, technological and organizational) and the assessment of risks in ongoing projects. The resulting RRF consists of 12 main risk categories and 142 connected critical innovation issues and has been developed for a globally operating company in the fast-moving consumer goods industry. Our analyses show that to some extent different project members identified the same risks and that saturation occurred in the number of new risk-issues brought to light. We conclude that the success of breakthrough innovation projects improves through formal risk-assessment.