, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 195-215
Date: 08 Dec 2006

The mobility of university inventors in Europe

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This paper analyses university patenting and academic mobility based on information in the PatVal database on European inventors in six European countries. We show that university participation in patenting activity is grossly underestimated when assessed on ownership exclusively: university-owned patents account for only 15% of patents with at least one academic inventor. Academic mobility is unevenly distributed across technologies (most is in biomedics) and across countries (mainly the UK, Germany and the Netherlands). Descriptive evidence highlights the high levels of patenting and mobility of UK academic inventors. We analyse labour mobility from academia to business. Multinomial models show the presence of a strong individual life cycle effect on mobility. Moreover, there are important differences in what determines mobility towards other universities or businesses. Inventors with more valuable patents, which embody more tacit knowledge, are more likely to go to private organisations. Scientific productivity has no impact on the probability of moving.