Earlier this week I held an exhibition at a university institute close to Copenhagen. After a very interesting discussion with a researcher, we came up with some decent suggestions in how my knowledge and products could help her. However, then I was told something along the lines of “well, I’d like to give your products a go, but the university tells us to purchase our products from a set of preferred suppliers. It’s not that we can’t purchase items from non-preferred suppliers, but the university makes it difficult.”
In a nutshell, the situation is this: universities are putting obstacles in the way of researchers and many life science vendors doing business together. I can only speak of the situation in Denmark from firsthand experience, but know that this occurs in institutes across Europe to greater or lesser extents (the rules seem to be different across Danish academic sites as well).
Universities often make ill-informed decisions on which vendors to put on their preferred list as well, but that’s another story, that I’ll probably file one day under “tenders are a nightmare.”
The outcome is that researchers have a lack of choice and, I believe, are missing out on potential solutions to move their research forward. Not to mention missing out on getting more out of their grant money.
I wonder why researchers tolerate this?
Even if a researcher discovers they can purchase a product that is purer, cheaper, more effective, delivered faster than what they are currently using, they often choose the path of least resistance and stick with what they’ve got.
Obviously, I am not unbiased in my opinion, due to conflicting interests. The purity of my desire to render service to researchers is tainted by my need to grow my business, which depends upon selling scientists tools from the various life science companies I represent. However, I hope you can understand the frustration one gets when you know you can help someone and you know you can save them money, but a third party believes it knows better.
In short, it seems strange to me that universities take the position that highly educated researchers are unable to make choices about the products that are best for their research and negotiate a decent price for that.