I have had R&D agents working for my main character for quite a while now, churning out research points that I can exchange for datacores to further my own ventures into invention. My many business lines include Tech II mining crystals, expanded cargoholds, and missiles.
I decided to get my alt into the R&D game. He actually already had one R&D agent churning away for him and was pretty close skill-wise to being able to add three more with a new skill purchase. Even if I was not doing invention, datacores sell for anywhere between 100K and 400K ISK. That kind of ISK can add up if you collect datacores for a while.
With my main I chose R&D agents based on quality and research skill. I wanted to get the most datacores I could of the types I could use. That left me with R&D agents scattered all over Amarr space. Because of that, I tend not to visit these agents until I need more datacores for my invention work.
With my alt I decided to choose based on the three rules of real estate; location, location, location.
My alt does not have the same standing with the Amarr Empire, so he could only work with level 2 R&D agents. Using the EVE Online Agent Finder, I was able to locate four agents in two adjacent systems just 7 jumps from my normal base of operations. I flew out to them in a Badger loaded with tritanium and started research going with each of the four agents. I also left half of my load of tritanium in one station, which houses two agents, and a quarter of it each in the stations of the other two agents.
Why the tritanium?
After a couple of days I got an in-game message from each of the four R&D agents. This was the standard “I’ve encountered a problem” message that asks you to come out for a visit. It also heralds the availability of a mission from that R&D agent. The mission is invariably one of two possible choices. The first is to deliver a 0.1 m3 package, often to another station in the system. The other is to acquire and deliver some tritanium to the agent, usually 900 units for a level 2 agent.
When you run the mission, your reward is a full days worth of research points. This is in addition to the research points you are earning normally for that day with the agent. So you get double the points.
Not only that, but in my experience these missions also count towards the 16 you need for a storyline mission, and we all love storyline missions.
So now every morning when I log on, then fly out to visit the agents in a shuttle. I run their missions either by carrying their package in the shuttle or using some of the tritanium I dropped off on my first trip. And then I fly home.
Not all of the agents are part of the same corporation, but I should be getting a storyline mission next week. And the storyline mission will raise my standings which will, eventually, make higher level, or at least higher quality, agents available to my alt.
Or so my theory goes. If nothing else, I should have plenty more datacores available to use or sell.