Once you've been running your own research jobs for a while, you'll invariably notice that all the ME and copy slots in high security space tend to be packed, with queues over a month long. Even the slots in low security space can be packed full for weeks at a time. The only way to beat the queues is to make use of private labs not open to the general public. Research alliances like "Zzz" run their own private labs on starbases in high security space. By forming your own corporation and joining their alliance, you can use their private labs for a small fee. You don't get to access the labs directly and so you can't make use of copy facilities as there would be no way to retrieve the copies. To install jobs, the blueprints can be placed in a corp hanger in the lab system and the jobs installed remotely using the "Scientific Networking" skill.
If you need a lot of control over your research or want to make use of private copy slots, the best option is to run your own starbase with mobile laboratories. This isn't a cheap option as the cost of the smallest control tower is 100 million ISK and they consume fuel every day. Each mobile lab you add costs just under 90 million ISK to buy but comes with 3 slots for ME research, 3 for PE, 5 for invention and 1 copy slot for your corp's personal use. Advanced labs cost just under 150 million ISK each and come with 3 copy slots but have only 2 slots for ME, 2 for invention and none for PE. In addition to having no long queues to wait through, private labs at starbases actually research faster than slots in NPC stations.
Keeping your labs safe:
Although anyone can anchor a starbase in systems of security rating 0.3 and below, it's possible to set one up in high security space if your corp's standing to the local faction is high enough. As the corp's standing is an average over all members in the corp, it's advised that you start a new corp with a character of sufficiently high standing. If you don't have high enough standings, the alternative is to start a new corp and then pay someone with high enough standings to join it for a few days. The corp's standings will automatically adjust upward until they're high enough to anchor your starbase.
Many people sell a corp standing service expressly for the purpose of letting corps anchor their own starbases in high security space. Others sometimes sell entire corps complete with starbases already set up. If you do choose to run your own labs and have a starbase anchored in high security space, be aware that it's not completely safe. If another corp declares war on you, your starbase could still come under attack. The best defense is to use a large starbase loaded to the brim with firepower or ECM, though this will drive up fuel costs and the initial development costs of your research center.
Research can be a nice way to make some extra ISK with very little effort. Whether you're running an intensive copy lab on your very own starbase research centre or just filling up the empire ME slots to get an edge in manufacturing, it pays to have all the basic research skills trained. There are even research calculator tools available to help you get the most out of your blueprints. But what can you do with all those tech 1 blueprint copies that you just can't sell? In next week's column, I'll delve into the guts of the "Invention" system that lets players turn tech 1 blueprint copies into tech 2 blueprints. I'll look at Invention, success rates and how to keep profitability as high as possible when building your tech 2 blueprints into the finished product.
Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at massively.com. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you want to message him, send him an e-mail at brendan.drain AT weblogsinc DOT com.