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The economic impact of technological procurement for large-scale research infrastructures: Evidence from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN

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  • Castelnovo, Paolo
  • Florio, Massimo
  • Forte, Stefano
  • Rossi, Lucio
  • Sirtori, Emanuela

Abstract

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, is the world’s highest-energy particle accelerator. Its construction (1995–2008) required frontier technologies and close collaboration between CERN scientists and contracting firms. The literature on “Big Science” projects suggests that this collaboration generated economic spillovers, particularly through technological learning. CERN granted us access to its procurement database, including suppliers of LHC from 35 countries for orders over 10,000 Swiss Francs. We gathered balance-sheet data for more than 350 of these companies from 1991 to 2014, which include the years before and after that of the first order received. The study assesses, in quantitative terms, whether becoming a CERN supplier induced greater R&D effort and innovative capacity, thus enhancing productivity and profitability. The findings – which controlled for firms’ observable characteristics, macroeconomic conditions, and unobserved time, country, industry and firm-level fixed effects – indicate a statistically significant correlation between procurement events and company R&D, knowledge creation and economic performance. The correlation is chiefly driven by high-tech orders; for companies receiving non-high-tech orders, it is weaker, or even statistically not significant.

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  • Castelnovo, Paolo & Florio, Massimo & Forte, Stefano & Rossi, Lucio & Sirtori, Emanuela, 2018. "The economic impact of technological procurement for large-scale research infrastructures: Evidence from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(9), pages 1853-1867.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:respol:v:47:y:2018:i:9:p:1853-1867
    DOI: 10.1016/j.respol.2018.06.018
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Public procurement; CERN; Large hadron collider; Technological spillovers;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation

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