Do corporate funds trump publicly-funded science?

Researchers surprised even themselves when they set about measuring the impact of corporate versus public or government-funded research — and found that corporate funding had widespread benefits. They issued strong cautions: theirs is just one case study, more research is needed, oversight is crucial, and their findings don’t apply to product trials. But they do claim to have debunked a common assumption: that “corporate sponsorship turns leading universities into corporate vassals.” From my story today:

A startling report seems to contradict the nostrum that government or non-profit-funded research is always more “useful” than corporate-funded research. A Comment  in the peer-reviewed journal Nature found that greater benefits flowed from projects with at least some private funding, than from other sources:  Inventions using corporate funds yielded more patents and licences, the corporations benefited only half the time, and the research was used more often in other, spin-off research.

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