“To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.” — Steven Wright
It has been at least some thirty years since companies first became aware of the vast potential of universities to serve as de facto R & D units. Rather than spending millions of dollars investing in infrastructure and personnel, pharmaceutical companies set up ‘collaborations’ with universities in order to save on development costs.
Academics would perform some of the basic research, and the company would carry the product to market. While this arrangement was not completely without benefit to the university and its researchers, the bulk of the profits were to be enjoyed by the company.
The argument has been made that it is far more efficient to do so. After all, if university laboratories are performing research (be it in biochemistry, computer science, or in genetics) along the same lines as private companies, why should the two not combine their efforts? The answer can be gleaned by examining the underlying motives of the two sectors.