Networks of innovators within and across borders. Evidence from patent data
Recent studies on the geography of knowledge networks have documented a negative impact of physical distance and institutional borders upon research and development (R&D) collaborations. Though it is widely recognized that geographic constraints hamper the diffusion of knowledge, less attention has been devoted to the temporal evolution of these constraints. In this study we use data on patents filed with the European Patent Office (EPO) for 50 countries to analyze the impact of physical distance and country borders on inter-regional links in four different networks over the period 1988-2009: (1) co-inventorship, (2) patent citations, (3) inventor mobility and (4) the location of R&D laboratories. We find the constraint imposed by country borders and distance decreased until mid-1990s then started to grow, particularly for distance. The intensity of European cross-country inventor collaborations increased at a higher pace than their non-European counterparts until 2004, with no significant relative progress afterwards. Moreover, when analyzing networks of geographical mobility, multinational R&D activities and patent citations we do not depict any substantial progress in European research integration aside from the influence of common global trends.
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