The Price of Forgoing Basic Research

The trends that have seen scientific research move away from corporate labs and commercialized academia damage prospects for innovation and growth
LEX VAN LIESHOUT/AFP/Getty Images

In the "good old days," the industrialized world was peppered with corporate research labs. At the same time, universities were generally well funded. Curiosity-driven research, a key component in innovation was the ethic of the academy. The university produced great minds that were encouraged to think deeply and creatively without the consideration of commercial relevance. Industry selected appropriate candidates from among this cohort and gave them a home where they could generate proprietary intellectual property on which that company's future could be based. Along the way, all did some outstanding basic science.

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