As I understand it, the elder Koch came up with a cracking process that yielded more gasoline out of a barrel of oil. This is an improvement in efficiency similar to what you were indicating would be an economic technical advance. As Paul Harvey used to say 'And now (in an amazing set of events) you have the rest of the story.
This 'rest of the story' might be of interest on several levels. It casts a hypothetical light on Stalin who, though he 'wanted to be a good Marxist' as he told his daughter to be, also considered the economic cost of inputs, i.e. in some sense was a capitalist. That may have been a reason for his success. Also in this discussion, as you point out, the implied assumption is 'big financial commitment' or commitment to a pyramid. What the president of the Pharma firm said was he wanted science but he wanted to change the cost of his inputs. When I went to the University of Texas tuition was essentially free. Is that the same as spending $17,000 a year on tuition?