This paper addresses a number of fundamental research questions on university–industry (U–I) collaborations. Are U–I collaborations intrinsically different from other forms of collaboration, such as inter-firm or inter-university collaborations? Are they more difficult to form? Is their output qualitatively different? What factors facilitate their development? By looking at the collaborative behavior of all Italian inventors over the 1978–2007 period, the empirical analysis shows that U–I collaborations are less likely to happen when compared to collaborations involving exclusively university partners of business partners, and suggests that they tend to generate patents of more general applicability in subsequent inventions—measured by forward-citations. As emphasized by the literature, geographical proximity plays an important role in facilitating all forms of collaboration. At the same time, it works as a possible substitute for institutional proximity, facilitating U–I collaborations. However, the involvement of ‘star inventors’ on both sides of the collaboration can play an equally important role in ‘bridging’ universities and industry.
Crescenzi, R., Filippetti, A., & Iammarino, S. (2017). Academic inventors: collaboration and proximity with industry. THE JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER, 1-33 [10.1007/s10961-016-9550-z].