"Business can afford to do ANY research that will ultimately lead to a return."
That is my point. Much of the work that underlies technological advancement came from work that has no expectation of a return on investment.
Fundamental studies of electromagnetic fields by Hertz and Maxwell underpin radio and television, developments that they clearly could not have imagined. The laser was developed at Bell Labs but there was no immediate application in mind. This idea came directly from atomic physics and, in particular, from principles of stimulated emission discovered by Einstein several decades before.
Even today, quantum computers are just now being realized but there basis is in decades of research in quantum theory--all of it basic