by Hannah Holleman and Rebecca Clausen
In February 2007, BP announced plans with the University of California (UC) at Berkeley, in partnership with the University of Illinois and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to lead the largest academic-industry research alliance in U.S. history. The $50 million-a-year bone that BP will throw to Berkeley will create the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), primarily focusing its research on biotechnology to produce biofuels. "In launching this visionary institute, BP is creating a new model for university-industry collaboration," said Beth Burnside, UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor for Research (quoted in Sanders 2007). In light of the historic record of capitalist accumulation, this "new model" for university-industry collaboration looks like old wine in a new bottle: appropriate a social good (public university), privatize the property (intellectual development), and commodify the output (energy-intensive products). And in this instance, BP has recruited a public institution to be its profit-making subsidiary.