The impact of university research on corporate patenting

Christian Helmers, Mark Rogers

Research output: Preprint or Working paperWorking paper


This paper analyses the association between the number of patenting manufacturing firms and the quantity and quality of relevant university research across UK postcode areas. We show that different measures of research `power' and `excellence' positively affect the patenting of small firms within the same postcode area. Patenting by large firms, in contrast, is unaffected by research undertaken in nearby universities. This confirms the commonly held view that location matters more for small firms than large firms. We also investigate specific channels of technology transfer, finding that university-industry knowledge transfer occurs through both formal and informal channels. From a methodological point of view, we contribute to the existing literature by accounting for potential simultaneity between university research and patenting of local firms by adopting an instrumental variable approach. Moreover, we also allow for the effects of the presence of universities in neighbouring postcode areas to influence firms' patenting activity by incorporating spatial neighborhood effects.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages36
Publication statusUnpublished - Sept 2010

Publication series

NameSERC Discussion Papers

Bibliographical note

© C. Helmers and M. Rogers, submitted 2010


  • patents
  • universities
  • knowledge transfer
  • spillover
  • UK


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