Uberization of research

We are living in interesting times. I visited several places where start-ups and big companies are in the same location, in the same building. Big companies pay a lot as start-ups pay a low rent. These places are called fablabs, business incubators, coworking spaces… Mentor big companies are, of course, only driven by the sense of having a good karma by helping small companYM-zliYmRiNwies to start…or maybe not. So let’s think about another strategy.


I am a big company. For my R&D, I can choose two strategies: The first one is performing Research inside my own laboratories. Unfortunatly, my internal experts are quite expensives, not very dynamic, and furthermore, as a big company, the State and local authorities are quite reluctant in funding my projects. The second one is subcontracting to public laboratories and universities. Unfortunatly, the purpose of the public research is only producing knowledge and disseminate it through publications. They prefere long term projects and are sometimes reluctant to applied research. Furthermore, universities develop more and more intellectual property policies and their lawyers are sometimes very greedy. What could I do?


Now let’s imagine I invest in a place where young and skilled people could develop their projects and companies. They are young. Everyone loves them. Public authorities want to help them; they have access to a large variety of funds. Their wages are low or null; they don’t employ any expensive lawyers. As they are strongly connected with laboratories, they can access to a lot of resources at low cost. If they succeed, we can buy them. If not, we can reuse their knowledge or experiences. They take all the risks and uncertainties. They are happy to collaborate with us. It is a win-win situation, close to the paradise of the uberzation.

Do start-ups will soon replace academic laboratories, at least for applied research?


Photo: pixabay licence CCO

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