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 173: Working with Distant Researchers - distance and content in university-industry interaction

Anders Broström ()
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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

Abstract: This paper studies the role of geographic proximity for interaction on R&D, by exploring the special case of university-industry contacts. While numerous studies find that geographic proximity facilitates spillover effects between university and industry by utilising evidence from e.g. patenting and publishing activities, the geographical dimension is largely understudied in studies that report evidence from direct interaction. To explore when geographical proximity matters for university-industry interaction, a series of interviews with R&D managers in Swedish engineering firms is conducted. These interviews suggest that linkages in geographical proximity are more likely to generate impulses to innovation and create significant learning effects at the firm. Similarly, geographic proximate interaction is more likely to successfully contribute to R&D projects with short time to market. For long-term R&D projects, geographic proximity is generally seen as a less critical factor. A survey to 425 R&D managers in Swedish engineering firms provides evidence that supports these hypotheses.

Keywords: R&D collaboration; innovation collaboration; university; technology transfer

JEL-codes: L21; L23; O32

23 pages, March 25, 2009

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