The Growing Importance of Universities for Patenting and Innovation
49 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2021
Date Written: August 25, 2021
We document a growing link between university research and development expenditures and patenting activity in the surrounding metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) since 1980. The gap in patents per capita between MSAs with and without a research university has doubled, while the elasticity of patents per capita with respect to university R&D has tripled. We establish that this trend reflects growing knowledge spillovers from university R&D by showing that it survives controlling for MSA and university characteristics; that it holds by research/patent field; and that it is stronger in areas where universities do more basic R&D. We show that a portion of this change can be linked to the passage of the Bayh-Dole Act, which was designed in part to improve knowledge flows between universities and firms. The growing importance of teams for leading scientific research and reduction in corporate basic research likely also play a role.
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