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Exploring the Link Between Academic Science and Industrial Innovation


  • Lee Branstetter


Over the last fifteen years, patent citations to scientific articles have increased rapidly. Is this indicative of increasingly powerful knowledge spillovers from academic science to industrial innovation? This paper seeks to shed light on that question by conducting statistical analysis of the universe of patent citations to scientific research papers found in a random sample of nearly 30,000 U.S. patents issued between 1983 and 1996. I find evidence that the propensity of patents to cite academic science has risen sharply, even controlling for changes in the volume and distribution across fields of U.S. patents. I also find that patent citations to science are concentrated in a narrow set of fields of science and technology. Finally, I provide evidence that patents which cite science are of significantly higher quality than patents that do not.

Suggested Citation

  • Lee Branstetter, 2005. "Exploring the Link Between Academic Science and Industrial Innovation," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 79-80, pages 119-142.
  • Handle: RePEc:adr:anecst:y:2005:i:79-80:p:119-142

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    Cited by:

    1. Dominik Heinisch & Önder Nomaler & Guido Buenstorf & Koen Frenken & Harry Lintsen, 2016. "Same place, same knowledge -- same people? The geography of non-patent citations in Dutch polymer patents," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 25(6), pages 553-572, September.
    2. Leonie Koch & Martin Simmler, 2020. "How Important are Local Knowledge Spillovers of Public R&D and What Drives Them?," EconPol Working Paper 42, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    3. Zhao Qu & Shanshan Zhang, 2020. "References to literature from the business sector in patent documents: a case study of charging technologies for electric vehicles," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 124(2), pages 867-886, August.
    4. Pierre Azoulay & Joshua S. Graff Zivin & Bhaven N. Sampat, 2011. "The Diffusion of Scientific Knowledge across Time and Space: Evidence from Professional Transitions for the Superstars of Medicine," NBER Chapters, in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity Revisited, pages 107-155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Zhao Qu & Shanshan Zhang, 0. "References to literature from the business sector in patent documents: a case study of charging technologies for electric vehicles," Scientometrics, Springer;Akadémiai Kiadó, vol. 0, pages 1-20.
    6. Popp, David, 2017. "From science to technology: The value of knowledge from different energy research institutions," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 46(9), pages 1580-1594.
    7. Felix Poege & Dietmar Harhoff & Fabian Gaessler & Stefano Baruffaldi, 2019. "Science Quality and the Value of Inventions," Papers 1903.05020,, revised Apr 2019.

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