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Do top cats take the cream?

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Big companies bring mixed blessings to publicly funded R&D projects, says Sara Amoroso

Collaboration between academic institutions and private companies is an increasing focus of policy. Public R&D programmes such as the EU Framework Programme encourage public-private projects to combine the skills and approaches of different actors and to boost the production and application of knowledge. 

However, collaborations between private firms and public research institutes can also create problems, particularly if the participants’ objectives differ. Firms may seek the profitable commercialisation of innovations, for example, while universities primarily pursue scientific excellence. This diversity of goals might make communication and collaborative working more complicated, and lead to less effective research and less socially-desirable outcomes.

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