Death of the industrial research lab

Basic research performed in industrial laboratories is declining — is the focus on profitability to the detriment of furthering scientific knowledge?

Do read this interesting article by A. Michael Noll (Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California) in Nature Materials.

In metallurgy and materials science, many great researchers started their career at industrial labs. John W. Cahn (at General Electric) and Hubert Aaronson (at Ford) come to mind immediately. Of course, they both left for academia eventually.


One thought on “Death of the industrial research lab

  1. Hmmm. I have some anecdotal evidence at hand locally here in Japan to suggest that corporates are stifling true blue-sky basic research. A very good friend and a metallurgist to boot left one of Japan’s largest and most prestigious corporate labs some years ago when they pressured him to shift from basic to applied research – which goes entirely against the grain of his gifted, intellectually solidly-grounded, and restless mind. We are now working to commercialize a range of products ranging from high-luminance LEDs and phosphorescent hybrid lamps to silver-ion nanoparticles of uniform 4nm dimensions and other intriguing characteristics. Our main goals in commercializing these innovations are two-fold: 1) To create additional funding for continued un-inhibited research and 2) To make the fruits of such research available in low-income and emerging economic regions – in the form of energy-saving technologies, lower-cost healthcare and other benefits.

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