Scientists study the world as it is; engineers create the world that has never been. —Theodore von Kármán.
In Novus case these engineers have a leg up because they know the world that has been.
To put into better perspective. Say a chemist identifies some wonderful reaction that makes compound x. The chemist is only able to make a microgram of this a year using his own devices. The engineers starts with the chemist believes to be true, verifies it, and applies existing technology in order to produce tons of compound x a day. When is done it is likely to be produced in an entirely different matter and a bizzillion times the efficiency.