In Empire space open Material Research slots are notoriously hard to find. To view Public slots in your area, go to your Science & Industry section, Installations tab, filter by Material Research / Any / Current Region / Public. This will show you just how full the slots are.
The saturation of slots in Empire is true for Material Research and Copy job activities while Time Efficiency and Invention slots are generally easy to find.
Why are Time Efficiency (PE) and Invention slots generally open in empire?
Adding PE to a BPO reduces a small amount of time off of the construction job. For example here are the build times for a Noctis at differing PE levels (doesn’t account for character skill bonuses):
PE 5: 2 hours, 46 minutes
PE 10: 2 hours, 43 minutes
PE 20: 2 hours, 41 minutes
If getting it to PE 20 only save 5 minutes off of the build time, why even bother? A lot of small industrialists consider PE on a blueprint a bonus. The amount of time does scale with the job length so for long jobs such as capitals, PE can save a few hours and might be worth the investment. Also if you are planning on making 1,000 Noctii (?), then you will want to spend some research time adding PE to the BPO.
For invention, the jobs are quick. To invent a Cap Recharge II the job takes 2 hours and 30 minutes. I find that it is easier to run a batch of invention jobs and then spend a few weeks working on the invented T2 BPCs.
So what is the budding industrialist supposed to do when he or she wants access to a lot of ME and Copy slots? Why setup a POS of course! How exciting — hours of anchoring, fueling, and defense management! Can you tell I don’t like POS management?
I stupidly setup my research POS in a lowsec dead-end system that has a lot of cyno traffic. I picked this system due to my Highsec proximity. Not to my surprise, a local pirate group had targeted the tower within two weeks.
One weeknight while I was out to dinner, I started to get frantic emails and text messages from corpmates who were seeing the in-game ‘Under Attack’ messages. When I got home I was able to cancel the research jobs, unanchor all of the labs, pull out the majority of the fuel, and online a bunch or hardeners just to make the job of taking the tower down more tedious; the amount of smack in local informed me that they were there to stay and finish what they had started.
Note to you pirates out there that think killing a POS with labs will get you billions of BPOs: you can run the jobs remotely. This means that the BPO is sitting in a Station in the corporation hangar. The research is done from the POS while the shiny BPO is locked up in the Station corporation hanger.
Second note to pirates: If you find a research tower in a system with NO station, then you have found something quite precious.
After the last hardener was setup, I logged off, watched some Netflix, and went to bed. After waking up and reviewing the Eve in-game alerts, it turns out that they did put the tower into Reinforced mode after 7 hours. I’m glad that the only POS bashing I have participated in on was with Supercarriers and Titans; subcapital POS bashing seems like a boring, boring task.
The lowsec pirates did camp the lowsec station that I was using as a base and stalked me into Empire while the tower was in Reinforced. I believe that they were gathering intel to see if I was going to mount a defense effort or possibly unanchor and save the tower. Having wrote off the costs of the POS project from the beginning, I wasn’t interested in either. Saving the 700 M worth of labs was all I really cared about.
Two weeks later the POS still stands anchored, offline, and with damaged guns that need repair in order to unanchor and save the tower. For now I have no interest in saving it and I need to find a different method or location for getting ME and Copy slots.