Shaping the formation of university-industry research collaborations: what type of proximity does really matter?

Pablo D'Este, Frederick Guy,Simona Iammarino
Journal of Economic Geography

Research collaborations between universities and industry (U-I) are considered to be one important channel of potential localized knowledge spillovers (LKS). These collaborations favour both intended and unintended flows of knowledge and facilitate learning processes between partners from different organizations. Despite the copious literature on LKS, still little is known about the factors driving the formation of U-I research collaborations and, in particular, about the role that geographical proximity plays in the establishment of such relationships. Using collaborative research grants between universities and business firms awarded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), in this article we disentangle some of the conditions under which different kinds of proximity contribute to the formation of U-I research collaborations, focussing in particular on clustering and technological complementarity among the firms participating in such partnerships.