In professional sports, a free agent is a team player whose contract with a team has expired and/or the player is able to sign a contract with another team. Prior to free agency, a player was essentially the property of a team. In this article, the authors examine how the smartest scientists in the world are behaving more and more as free agents, and the effect the authors believe this is having on industrial research. Smart companies (large and small, domestic and international) are accessing free agents to solve their most difficult and market-driven problems, enabling them to gain significant performance advantages over competitors. Genius is moving toward free agency, with a profound impact on R&D and revenue. A variety of factors are accelerating this movement. One is the Internet, which is constantly creating and recreating the free associations in which genius is prized and engaged across boundaries of function, technology, hierarchical business, and geography.