Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation,
Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies

No 74: What do we know about Firms’ Research Collaboration with Universities? New Quantitative and Qualitative Evidence

Anders Broström () and Hans Lööf ()
Additional contact information
Anders Broström: CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies, Royal Institute of Technology, Postal: CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies, Royal Institute of Technology, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden
Hans Lööf: CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies, Royal Institute of Technology, Postal: CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies, Royal Institute of Technology, SE-100 44 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: This chapter provides an integrated view of knowledge transfer between university and industry by combining two different approaches. First, we report results from an econometric analysis, where recent matching techniques are used on a dataset of 2,071 Swedish firms. Our findings from this analysis strongly suggest that university collaboration has a positive influence on the innovative activity of large manufacturing firms. In contrast, there appears to be an insignificant association between university collaboration and the average service firm’s innovation output. Second, in the pursuit of credible explanations for these findings, we apply a semi-structured interview methodology on 39 randomly selected firms collaborating with two research universities in Stockholm, Sweden. We identify three ideas for how collaboration may help firms become more innovative in the literature of innovation studies. In analysis of the interviews, we find very weak support for the first idea; that firms are able to exploit and market innovations originating in the university. The second idea – that firms improve their internal innovative capability by collaboration – is found to apply to about half of the investigated firms. Innovation efficiency gains in the form of reduced cost and risk for innovation projects, which is a third idea suggested by the literature, are also suggested to be a major factor behind firms’ benefits. Finally, we offer tentative explanations for the lack of measurable effects of collaboration for service firms.

Keywords: University-Industry Link; Innovation; Technology transfer; R&D; Research collaboration

JEL-codes: C10; I23; O31; O33

28 pages, August 28, 2006

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