Ideas on how to improve scientific research

Bridging the gap from scientific discovery to new products.

Brian Armstrong
19 min readFeb 25, 2019


Update: the idea proposed in this blog post has now launched at Please go check it out and join to show your support.

Academic research could be much more efficient. It struggles with:

  • prioritization of what to work on
  • reproducibility of results
  • alignment to market incentives
  • access to funding
  • cost and delays from academic journals

In this post, I’ll explore some ideas on how to improve scientific research, including how to make it work more like open source software.

Several million academic papers are published each year, but only a small handful of them actually lead to new products and services where people can really benefit from them.

Scientists often live in their own world, producing insights that are only read by other scientists. At the same time, business people often live in their own world, creating products that lack any real technological innovation. There isn’t much information flow between the groups¹.

Most new products that get created rely on marketing and branding to differentiate. This is common in the cosmetics, food, and fitness/diet industries, for instance, where private label manufacturers make many of the same products under different labels.

Here are a bunch of drinks sold at Whole Foods. They are marketed as improving energy, passion, and healing but really they are all repackaging the same few FDA approved ingredients (caffeine, theanine, sugar, etc). Where is the drink with some kind of proprietary molecule or intellectual property in it?

The exceptions to this proves the rule. Companies that bridge the divide (or successfully marry technology with business) tend to be the most valuable: Tesla, Genentech, Google, Apple, SpaceX, etc. Often these seem to require a technical founder (or founding team), with sufficient understanding of both science and business².



Brian Armstrong

Co-Founder and CEO at @Coinbase. Increasing economic freedom in the world. Join us: