Explaining the Patenting Propensity: A Regional Analysis using EPO-OECD Data
The aim of this paper is to study empirically the patenting propensity at the European regional level. To do that we use the OECD-REGPAT dataset, that includes patent applications made by European inventors and applicants to EPO in the time-span 1978-2011. Explanatory variables on R&D and human capital are extracted from EUROSTAT and OECD databases. In order to reduce biases we use patent applications by region of the inventor, as its linkage to the territory is stronger than using the region of the applicant. Analyzing the data, we sketch out the existence of a deep uneven distribution both in patent applications and R&D expenditure. Richer regions in terms of GDP – generally those of central-western Europe – show higher level of both private and public R&D expenditure as well as a consistent share of the whole European patent applications in last decades. As a consequence, eastern (and to a minor extent southern) European regions report harmful outcomes in terms of both variables. Thus, following the approach of Cincera (1997, 2005) we explain the determinants of patenting propensity using a regional panel data. Our main results substantially confirm the key role of R&D expenditure on patenting activity: mainly the business-enterprises component, but also the government sector one. Moreover, human capital variables – such as the share of human resources employed in high tech industries, and the number of highly qualified workers in science and technology occupations – show a positive relationship with patenting propensity. On the other side, average enterprise size seems not to play a determinant role on patent applications.
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