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Factors Affecting University–Industry R&D Collaboration : The importance of screening and signalling

  • Roberto FONTANA
  • Aldo GEUNA
  • Mireille MATT

This paper presents an empirical analysis of the determinants of research cooperation between firms and Public Research Organisations (PROs) for a sample of innovating small and mediumsized enterprises. The econometric analysis is based on the results of the KNOW survey carried out in seven EU countries during 2000. In contrast to earlier works that provide information about the importance of PROs’ research, we know how many collaborative projects a firm has had with PROs. This allows us to study the determinants of firms’ collaboration with PROs in terms of both the propensity of a firm to cooperate with a university (do they cooperate or not) and the extent of this cooperation (the number of collaborations). Two questions are addressed. Which firms cooperated with PROs? And what are the firm characteristics that might explain the number of collaborations with PROs? The results of our analysis point to two major phenomena. First, the propensity to forge an agreement with an academic partner depends on the ‘absolute size’ of the industrial partner. Second the openness of firms to the external environment, as measured by their willingness to search, screen and signal, significantly affects the development of cooperations with PROs. Our findings suggest that acquiring knowledge through the screening of publications and involvement in public policies positively affects the probability of signing an agreement with a PRO, but not the level of collaboration developed. In fact, firms that outsource research and development (R&D), and patent to protect innovation and to signal competencies show higher levels of collaboration.

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Paper provided by Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg in its series Working Papers of BETA with number 2005-07.

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Date of creation: 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ulp:sbbeta:2005-07
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  1. Caloghirou, Yannis & Tsakanikas, Aggelos & Vonortas, Nicholas S, 2001. " Univeristy-Industry Cooperation in the Context of the European Framework Programmes," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 26(1-2), pages 153-61, January.
  2. Hall, Bronwyn & Link, Albert & Scott, John, 2010. "Universities as Research Partners," Working Papers 10-9, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Department of Economics.
  3. Mansfield, Edwin, 1991. "Academic research and industrial innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 1-12, February.
  4. Cohen, Wesley M & Klepper, Steven, 1996. "A Reprise of Size and R&D," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(437), pages 925-51, July.
  5. Schartinger, Doris & Schibany, Andras & Gassler, Helmut, 2001. " Interactive Relations between Universities and Firms: Empirical Evidence for Austria," The Journal of Technology Transfer, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 255-68, June.
  6. Roberto Fontana & Aldo Geuna & Mireille Matt, 2003. "Firm Size and Openness: the Driving Forces of University-Industry Collaboration," SPRU Working Paper Series 103, SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research, University of Sussex.
  7. Richard C. Levin & Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1988. "Appropriating the Returns from Industrial R&D," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 862, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  8. Hausman, Jerry & Hall, Bronwyn H & Griliches, Zvi, 1984. "Econometric Models for Count Data with an Application to the Patents-R&D Relationship," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 909-38, July.
  9. Meyer-Krahmer, Frieder & Schmoch, Ulrich, 1998. "Science-based technologies: university-industry interactions in four fields," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(8), pages 835-851, December.
  10. Anthony Arundel & Aldo Geuna, 2004. "Proximity and the use of public science by innovative European firms," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(6), pages 559-580.
  11. Keld Laursen & Ammon Salter, 2003. "Searching Low and High What Types of Firms use Universities as a Source of Innovation?," DRUID Working Papers 03-16, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  12. Alvin K. Klevorick & Richard C. Levin & Richard R. Nelson & Sidney G. Winter, 1993. "On the Sources and Significance of Interindustry Differences in Technological Opportunities," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1052, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
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