Technological Learning and Innovation Gestation Lags at the Frontier of Science: From CERN Procurement to Patents
53 Pages Posted: 15 Apr 2019
Date Written: April 10, 2019
This paper contributes to the literature on the impact of Big Science Centres on technological innovation. We exploit a unique dataset with information on CERN’s procurement orders to study the collaborative innovation process between CERN and its industrial partners, mostly European firms. Since 19 out of the 23 Member Countries of CERN belong to the EU, public procurement for innovation through CERN can be seen as factor contributing to European innovation policies. After a qualitative discussion of case studies, survival and count data models are estimated; the impact of CERN procurement on suppliers’ innovation is captured by the number of patent applications. The fact that firms in our sample received their first order over a long time span (1995-2008) delivers a natural partition of industrial partners into “suppliers” and “not yet suppliers”. This allows estimating the impact of CERN on the hazard to file a patent for the first time and on the number of patent applications, as well as the time needed for these effects to show up. We find that a “CERN effect” does exist: being an industrial partner of CERN is associated with an increase in the hazard to file a patent for the first time and in the number of patent applications. These effects require a significant “gestation lag” in the range of five to eight years, pointing to a relatively slow process of absorption of new ideas.
Keywords: Big Science; CERN; innovation; public procurement; patents; gestation lags
JEL Classification: C21; C23; H57; L39; O31
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