What type of firm forges closer innovation linkages with Portuguese Universities?
Using large-scale survey data for (1538) firms located in Portugal, we analyze which firm characteristics are conducive to establishing contacts with universities. Although almost half of the firms surveyed stated they had established some contacts with universities in the period 2001-2003, only a few (21.5%) consider universities an important source of knowledge and information for their innovation activities. A more disturbing finding is that 61% of the total firms claimed they had no intentions of establishing future contacts with universities and 38% would only be moderately interested in doing so (‘if requested’). The Universities of Minho, Porto and Aveiro are the ones that cover a higher percentage of contacts from firms. Furthermore, in terms of the most demanding type of contacts (protocols, partnerships and projects), the Técnica de Lisboa (Lisbon Technical), Aveiro and Porto are the best-ranked universities. Our analysis indicates that the firms’ propensity to draw on each of the Portuguese universities is explained by the characteristics of the different firms and their regional and industrial patterns. For instance, firms that have established contacts with the Aveiro, Coimbra, Évora, Lisboa, and the Nova (Lisbon) universities tend to be relatively R&D-intensive, whereas those that contact the Católica (Porto) and Porto universities are relatively large and export-intensive. If we exclude the Algarve and Beira Interior universities, firms that contact all the other universities tend to be relatively human capital-intensive. Firms belonging to ‘R&D and Engineering services’ show a relatively high propensity to draw on universities in general, and the Aveiro, Beira Interior, Católica (Porto), Porto and Técnica de Lisboa universities, in particular. ‘Textiles and leather’ firms establish more contacts with the Beira Interior and Minho universities, thus reflecting to some extent the specialization pattern of the corresponding region. An unambiguous and statistically robust finding is that proximity matters highly in firms-universities linkages - our estimations reveal that firms are more likely to contacts universities located nearby.
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