Richmond Lab will be a Playground for Public-Private Partnership

In an article in the San Francisco Business Times published yesterday, Lindsay Riddell writes, “officials are working to make a planned 2 million-square-foot second campus in Richmond an open environment where startups and corporations can better access the lab’s discoveries and resources.”

“Berkeley lab director Paul Alivisatos said one of the goals for the second campus is to enable new public-private interactions,” Riddell reports.

“There will be the potential to have a research park and for corporate partners to potentially locate there and to be adjacent to us,” Alivisatos said. “How that will work for both larger and smaller companies is something we’re thinking a lot about right now …” (To continue reading, subscribe to the San Francisco Business Times.)

While public-private partnerships are a core doctrine of neoliberal economics, and are standard fare, it is precisely this kind of environment, “where startups and corporations can better access the lab’s discoveries and resources,” that has Synbiowatch concerned. When the firewall between clear-eyed scientific research and the corporate profit motive is eroded to the extent it is in the LBNL project, we see vast increases in the amount of public money spent on private interests; when profit margins from research applications become the guiding objectives of laboratory science, concerns about public safety, ecological integrity, and community oversight go out the proverbial window.

– Jeff Conant, for Synbiowatch