Current approaches of science communication promote the engagement of all societal stakeholders in research. These include private companies that pursue economic profit. The role of companies in research is problematic from the perspective of science communication for two reasons. Firstly, private enterprises do not fit into the discourse of science communication that has developed since the second half of the twentieth century. Secondly, the role of commercial partners in research is considered as controversial in the public debate and the media. In order to stay relevant, science communicators have to develop useful modes of dealing with industrial partners in science communication theory as well as in practice. This article explains the relation between research and industry from a historical science communication perspective by making a distinction between the values of curiosity-driven research, societal relevance and market economic principles. It points out the roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders involved: researchers, research institutes, science communicators, journalists and companies. It concludes with a schematic division of the modes of science communication practice.