I've worked with many people who feel constrained by work in a formal research environment (I work at a national lab, though only part time now that I have Sky's Edge), and I've often daydreamed of making my own lab where people can work on whatever they want to. That kind of unfettered creativity always wins. But where does the money come from? Open source product development, either as a direct outcome of inventiveness or as a side-effort to fund unmarketable but otherwise remarkable ideas.
My idea with Sky's Edge is that I could make whatever I feel like making, as long as those things can be developed as viable products to fund the whole endeavor.The idea of "having a company" has always been unsavory to me, and indeed I see Sky's Edge more as an open source invention factory than as a company.
I'm not alone. Many others are out there, like Marcin Jakubowski, who has come to the same conclusions and has done a lot to enhance these ideas. He has a TED talk here, and has started Open Source Ecology, the mission of which is to further the idea that closed-source product development should be a thing of the past.