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Research, Inc.

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"Gentek: We're not playing God. We're just doing His work."

Research Inc. is a company that serves as the birthplace of technology and innovation. Generally, for technology that doesn't yet exist in the real world. It may be a whole company dedicated to one aspect of science, or an independent contractor, or just one part of a larger Mega-Corp, but in any case, they're usually in it for a profit or new toys.

Think tanks, policy institutes, research laboratories, military bases, secret facilities; there are many locations a scientist (mad or otherwise) can get a decent salary (plus benefits) and never have to worry about ethical problems.

The actual facilities very likely double as a modern Mad Scientist Laboratory, but could also be found abandoned. Actual research may occur or it could just be there For Science! Often they're run by a Corrupt Corporate Executive.


Compare with Cut Lex Luthor a Check. Contrast with For Science!, as this tends to be For Money!


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • In The DCU, S.T.A.R. Labs (Scientific and Technological Advanced Research) is an independent group of research laboratories throughout the U.S. It has a long history of coming up with high technology and new inventions, and has also regularly gotten involved in superheroic activities.
  • Also in The DCU, Project Cadmus was into genetic engineering; its abandoned laboratories are in some caverns near Metropolis. The most famous results of their work are Superboy Kon-El—or S-13 as they labeled him—and Golden Guardian.
  • in the Marvel Universe, Stark Industries often seems to fill this role, getting the credit for any real fancy tech that needs explaining, although it’s primarily an armaments manufacturer that’s diversified. A.I.M. (Advanced Ideas Mechanics) is more of a criminal conspiracy with a heavy superscience bent, but it may sometimes work through front companies.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Antigen in Underworld: Awakening focuses on medical research.
  • Bartok Industries starts up where Seth Brundle left off in The Fly II.
  • Cyberdyne Systems were at one point the origin of the Terminators and Skynet.
  • Bradford Labs in Inspector Gadget.
  • Star Wars has Sienar Advanced Projects Laboratory (which designed Darth Maul's Scimitar starship) and Czerka Arms, which runs droidlaboratories.
  • Stark Industries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe seems to be responsible for just about all technology more advanced than what is actually available in the present day — except when their competitor, Justin Hammer gets the blame. Hammer’s stuff is often grossly unreliable and/or salvaged alien tech (or a bad copy of a Stark development).
  • Venom (2018): The Life Foundation is a multibillion-dollar corporation that's investigating everything from cancer treatments to space exploration. Unfortunately, its founder is mostly concerned with surviving any sort of global crisis the future might hold, and is willing to chew through any number of human test subjects to do so.

  • In the Heechee Saga, the Gateway Corporation makes all its money by researching applications of alien technology and other discoveries brought back by the volunteers who fly in the mysterious and often deadly alien ships found on Gateway asteroid.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga, The Durona Group was set up by Miles' brother Mark (using some of the millions he got at Jackson's Whole) to research life-extension techniques that will help put an end to the morally repugnant Jacksonian clone-and-brain-swap business.
  • Galactic Cybersystems Corporation in The History of the Galaxy had a planet dedicated to R&D.

    Live Action TV 
  • Fringe's Massive Dynamic specializes in biotech.
  • Eureka has Global Dynamics, which isn't a true Mega-Corp as it only does R&D with government supervision.
  • The Hanso Foundation from Lost has the motto "Reach Out to a Better Tomorrow" and financed the DHARMA Initiative. Mittelos Bioscience doesn't count as it's just a front the Others use for recruitment.
  • Doctor Who, being a Long Runner, has quite a few:
  • Babylon 5 and Crusade have Interplanetary Expeditions (IPX for short), a private Earth-based commercial company which funds archaeological expeditions to alien planets in the hopes of finding ancient technology to reverse-engineer and incorporate into Earth technology. They sort of dance on the line between outright corrupt and merely kind of dodgy, and the minor characters in B5 and main character in Crusade that we see work for them often aren't the greatest of people even when they're on the good guys' side.
  • When The Drew Carey Show gang infiltrates Lewis's workplace of DrugCo we see things like gigantic insects and interchangeable heads. They also offered large amounts of money for a man to test breast implants. Double if they pose for the calendar.
    Kate: Does any actual research go on at DrugCo or is it just one big game of "Truth or Dare."
  • Better Off Ted takes place in the R&D section of Viridian Dynamics, and they develop everything from artificial meat to killer cyborgs.
  • In Helix Arctic Biosystems is a private company staffed by over a hundred Morally Ambiguous Doctorates who specifically come to the base, stationed in international territory, to exploit the opportunity to perform research unburdened by regulatory agencies. Its problems begin when a Synthetic Plague its been developing gets out of control, and results in an outbreak of The Virus amongst its research scientists.
  • Gizmonic Institute in Mystery Science Theater 3000. We don't get a clear picture of what they do (Science things? Joel mentions cleaning up a Flubber spill in the subbasement), but even a low-level janitor like Joel is a skilled, if eccentric, inventor.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Old World of Darkness has a few:
  • There are more than a few in the Mega-Corp–dominated Shadowrun.
  • Triax from Rifts used to be one of these, but now acts more an arm of the New German Republic.
  • In Transhuman Space, pretty much any company that’s worth mentioning in the game supplements ends up playing this part to some extent; it’s a near-future SF setting with the technology jammed on fast forward, after all. But especially notable examples would include Biotech Euphrates, a major biotech company with a sometimes shaky grasp of ethics, Omokage Laboratories, another biotech outfit with no detectable ethics at all, and Exogenesis, a corporate research division who, after they were bought out, came under armed assault from their own management because their idea of science seemed to come with the mandatory prefix “mad”. The latter two are based in the asteroid belt, where supervision is harder.
  • In Delta Green the most prenominent is March Industries. Originally started as a front company of MAJESTIC-12 for advanced research, but after their collapse many ex-MAJESTIC personnel went to work at March (Including four former members of the MJ-12's Steering Committee). The reformed Delta Green can't shut down March since it's a major part of the Military-Industrial complex and are the only ones with know-how to research alien technologies and the paranormal. So the Program made an alliance (Or better saying, an uneasy truce) to have March make research for them, while March executives abuse that position to profit and maybe take their position back in the future.
  • Mutantsand Masterminds: Freedom City has The Foundry. Lead by the ancient android Talos, they are often hired by other supervillains and crime syndicates to provide research and technical expertise. Its west coast rival, Ghostworks, does much the same in Emerald City

  • In Urinetown, this is supposedly one of the primary missions of the UGC (Urine Good Company), the company that owns and operates the public toilets.
    It's mentioned mainly in passing in a musical number:
    We're not greedy, as some make us seem.
    We need funds for our big research team.
    What it shows, no one knows, but hey, still we can dream.

    Video Games 
  • Abstergo in Assassin's Creed. It also helps make money to keep a secret society going strong.
  • Deus Ex has pharmaceutical giant Versalife, which even has secret underground labs.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution has an entire field of biotech corporations specializing in researching and developing new mechanical augmentations, the most prominent of which are Sarif Industries, Tai Yong Medical and Darrow Industries, the latter of which has shifted to geoengineering to combat global warming.
  • A central element of FEAR is the Armacham Technology Corporation (ATC), who's almost entirely responsible for all the problems in the game.
  • Black Mesa Research Facility from Half-Life.
  • A villainous example from Mass Effect: Binary Helix, a corporation primarily owned by arc villain Saren, invests heavily in (as the name implies) genetics research — meaning it's the source of the entire incident on Noveria with the rachni, Saren's genophage cure, and most of his Offscreen Villain Dark Matter.
  • The Murkoff Corporation from Outlast are a highly immoral research organization holding incredibly dangerous technologies that they use to perform experiments on humans. The company apparently has multiple research projects at multiple locations, with Mount Massive Asylum being the grounds for their Walrider Project.
  • Perfect Dark concerns a shadow conflict between two of these. The dataDyne corporation is a US defense contractor - in an early level you can find a prototype rifle the NSA forces use in a later mission - but is secretly conspiring to overthrow the government on behalf of the reptilians. Its rival the Carrington Institute presents itself as a private R&D center, and helped develop the setting's Flying Cars, but is secretly a Spy School that runs covert operations against corporations and even the US government, and is allied with The Grays.
  • Aperture Science from the Portal series was the aforementioned Black Mesa's Unknown Rival, but gradually went into decline over decades of being more interested in wild experimentation and building insane contraptions than in corporate profit. GlaDOS killing off most the staff and taking over the main testing facility just put the nail in the coffin.
  • [PROTOTYPE] and [PROTOTYPE 2] have GenTek, a genetics company that seems to be a front for the shadowy military agency Blackwatch. They claim to be researching ways to cure diseases, disfigurement, and death, but in practice they're more like a mob of Sociopathic Soldiers and Mad Scientists interested mainly in terrorizing the citizens of New York. In Prototype 2, you can find GenTek loudspeakers broadcasting messages telling citizens to "ignore the rumors" and trying to hit them up for money.
  • Resident Evil initially feature the Umbrella Corporation and later TRICELL, which were both into Pharmaceutical R&D.
  • The Cities of Tomorrow expansion pack for SimCity introduces "The Academy", a super-advanced facility full of science gurus that lets mayors research expensive, but very useful additions to their cities/region.
  • Materialist-focused Mega-Corporations in Stellaris can be considered a shade of this on a galactic scale, though aside from some minor buffs to research, they don't play much differently from any other empire. Additionally, any MegaCorp can establish research-focused branch offices on other empires' planets, which are planetary-scale versions of this trope.
  • System Shock has the player run into a lot of products from TriOptimum, a Mega-Corp with a division dedicated to science.
  • Vector Thrust has Sigsawa Heavy Industries, who specialize completely in research and development of new heavy industry and force-application technology to sell to nations and manufacturers.

    Web Comics 
  • Hereti-Corp from Sluggy Freelance even programs their muffins to self-destruct lest they fall into the hands of a competitor.
  • Cassie's workplace in Times Like This is TerCon Technologies, a nanotech laboratory. The products that she says "may happen in the future" at the conventions are generally ones she's actually witnessed while time-tripping in the future.

    Web Originals 
  • The SCP Foundation has a dedicated research staff who study the paranormal, primarily to figure out how to track down, capture and safely contain the things they've already encountered, secondarily to try to figure out how the paranormal in general works, and thirdly to figure out how to use the paranormal to create resources the Foundation can use (which is part of the reason the Foundation is an Organization with Unlimited Funding).
    • Played even straighter with Prometheus Labs, one of the groups of interest tracked by the foundation. This GOI is a rather sketchy research group with a great track record on figuring out how to turn anomalous effects into even more anomalous devices... and not such a great track record on things like remembering to add an off switch to an infinite power source.
  • Yoglabs from Yogscast is mod testing disguised as this.

    Western Animation 
  • Gargoyles notably has David Xanatos who owns Xanatos Enterprises.
    • There's also Cyberbiotics, a rival corporation owned by the aging Halcyon Reynard, Xanatos's father-in-law.

    Real Life 
  • Institutionalized R&D started around the 1790s in France, but didn't get going until the 1860s in the USA with the Cambria Iron Company, followed by the Pennsylvania Railroad, and eventually the famous Thomas Edison Electric Light Company. By World War II, most countries involved had research labs to make bigger and better weapons, and the Cold War is famous for its Lensman Arms Race, with Western R&D not in the hands of governments so much as private contractors. Nowadays this trope is ubiquitous, and R&D itself is an essential part of our technological society.
  • The RAND Corporation is an especially famous example of the trope in action. The name literally stands for Research ANd Development. Originally formed to offer research and analysis to the United States armed forces, its scope has grown to encompass pure science including space exploration; civil and criminal justice; social policy including child welfare; public health; and many other areas. Thirty-two Nobel laureates have been associated with RAND at some point in their careers.
  • German industrial corporation Robert Bosch GmbH. In its core automotive technology business, Bosch invests 9% of its revenue on research and development, nearly double the industry average of 4.7%. The other wiki has more information.
  • The pharmaceutical industry probably takes the cake on the research front, where most companies invest around 10-20% of their revenue on R&D.
    • Defense contractors are pretty noteworthy for R&D spending as well, investing 10% or more of their profits (not to mention their notorious cost overruns).
  • Bell Labs, who invented the first transistor (and later, the MOSFET), the photovoltic cell, radio astronomy, lasers, the C programming language, the UNIX operating system, and much more, racking up 9 Nobel Prizes in Physics in the process. The labs were spun off as part of Lucent when Ma Bell was no longer a legal monopoly, and are now owned by Nokia.
  • One that often surprises people: Microsoft, amazingly enough and despite their reputation. They have an absolutely insane R&D budget that accounts for something like 15% of their revenue. It's also considered one of the unfortunate jokes of the IT industry that despite having one of the biggest and best research divisions in the world, the corporate division steadfastly refuses to actually produce any of their best ideas.
  • IBM's R&D/revenue ratio is more like 7%, but they've had five Nobel laureates and as 2017 have patented more inventions in the US than any other company for twenty-four years in a row. Suing IBM for patent infringement is considered a bad idea, because they generally call up their Army of Lawyers, have them take a look at your stuff, and say to your lawyer something like "Yeah, about that one patent of yours we're supposedly infringing . . . do you want to talk about the fifty patents of ours you're definitely infringing?"


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