I have had the suspicion that it may be for a while and apparently not all is a product of my mind. Let me quote from an answer:
In my experience, in UK and other European countries, the research funding comes from successful proposals to the relevant funding bodies. There are research centres that were established and keep going only because the staff there constantly submits project proposals (somebody told me that the success rate is 1 out of 5 or maybe even lower).
There are two questions here.
- Can a company feasibly focus on obtaining funds in publicly funded research (as a business model) successfully enough to "survive"?
- Can such a company be started (nearly) from scratch?
In short, the company would be exactly like a research institute (or institution) except that it would be private.
Reasons why question 1 may not be feasible:
- I don't see any company doing this kind of thing, i.e. there may be some, but there are not many, which means that it may be hard. It's a bad sign.
- Public funds seem to be assigned to public entities, while companies can benefit from the collaboration and synergy, but they are expected to get their funding from their work as companies (searching for customers, etc.) In this case the customers would be the partners in the projects and the society itself, but again, this seems to be an "innovative" (maybe naïve, or even plain stupid) idea.
- Research is a means for something, not an end on itself, that's why the business model should be on something else (point two) and that's why such a company would raise eyebrows on the mere idea of its existence. It may even be against some kind of tacit rule or even written laws.
Reasons why question 2 may not be feasible:
- No previous history of success of the company, or products or anything means zero (or negative) trustworthiness and no projects assigned to the company.
- No partners would like to associate with the company in a project for the reasons in point 1.
- The most similar case I can think of are spin-off companies that are created from successful research labs, not from scratch.
- OMG so much communism! Go to kickstarter you hippie!
As an example, a possible scenario that could be close to this: Someone writes a paper about a software system that does something not very novel in the state of the art but in a way that is very different from an architectural point of view, leading to good results in practical terms. In short: in theory nothing is new, in practice what was just a dream is now a reality. What is done remains the same in theory, but how it is done is completely different in practice (and now it works). Unfortunately only a proof of concept (PoC) can reasonably be implemented.
Would it be feasible to request funds to continue the development of this PoC (still very far from a commercial product) as a start-up or that simply doesn't make sense?