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Stars and comets: an exploration of the patent universe

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  • Carlo Menon

    ()
    (Bank of Italy)

Abstract

The analysis of patent and citation data has become a popular source of evidence on localized knowledge spillovers and innovation. Nevertheless, one aspect has been overlooked: the patent distribution across inventors is extremely skewed, as many inventors -- the comets -- register one or few patents, while a small number of inventors -- the stars -- register many patents. This raises a number of questions relating to the geography of innovation: do different categories of inventors interact with the local economic environment in the same way? Are they equally distributed over space or do they tend to concentrate? Is spatial proximity beneficial for their activity? Using a rich database on US inventors, we provide evidence suggesting that the two categories of patents are associated with different kinds of cities. We then test whether the activity of stars is beneficial for local comets, finding that a 10% increase in the number of patents authored by star inventors leads to a 3% increase in the number of patents developed by comet inventors.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area in its series Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) with number 784.

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Date of creation: Jan 2011
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Handle: RePEc:bdi:wptemi:td_784_11

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Keywords: localized knowledge spillovers; patents; innovation;

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  1. Natarajan Balasubramanian & Jagadeesh Sivadasan, 2011. "What Happens When Firms Patent? New Evidence from U.S. Economic Census Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 126-146, February.
  2. Michael Greenstone & Richard Hornbeck & Enrico Moretti, 2008. "Identifying Agglomeration Spillovers: Evidence from Million Dollar Plants," NBER Working Papers 13833, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Silverberg, G. & Verspagen, B., 2004. "The size distribution of innovations revisited: an application of extreme value statistics to citation and value measures of patent significance," Working Papers 04.17, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies.
  4. Rachel Griffith & Sokbae Lee & John Van Reenen, 2008. "Is distance dying at last?," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 4595, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Giovanni Peri, 2005. "Determinants of Knowledge Flows and Their Effect on Innovation," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 308-322, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Megha Mukim, 2012. "Does Agglomeration Boost Innovation? An Econometric Evaluation," Spatial Economic Analysis, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(3), pages 357-380, September.
  2. Alessandra Scandura, 2013. "The role of scientific and market knowledge in the inventive process: evidence from a survey of industrial inventors," ERSA conference papers ersa13p128, European Regional Science Association.
  3. Max Nathan, 2011. "Ethnic Inventors, Diversity and Innovation in the UK: Evidence from Patents Microdata," SERC Discussion Papers 0092, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
  4. Gerald Carlino & William R. Kerr, 2014. "Agglomeration and Innovation," NBER Working Papers 20367, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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