The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 36, Issue 6, pp 587-604

First online:

National innovation systems and the globalization of nanotechnology innovation

  • Philip ShapiraAffiliated withManchester Institute of Innovation Research, Manchester Business School, University of ManchesterSchool of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology Email author 
  • , Jan YoutieAffiliated withEnterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • , Luciano KayAffiliated withSchool of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology

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While there has been much emphasis over the last decade on the science of nanotechnology and on the implications and risks of potential applications, it is now timely to increase attention to the emerging dynamics of nanotechnology commercialization. This paper examines, from a global perspective, where and how corporations are entering into nanotechnology innovation. The paper tests the proposition that a significant shift has occurred in recent years in the orientation of corporate nanotechnology activities—from research discovery to patented applications. It also examines the extent to which the character and structure of corporate nanotechnology activity by country initially reflects national innovation system characteristics and prior public research funding inputs in the stage when discovery is most emphasized. The results indicate that national innovation systems characteristics are significant factors in the commercialization shift of nanotechnology and highlight the importance of innovation system policy factors. We also observe the influence of cross-border international invention linkages, suggesting that national innovation policies also need to be open and international in orientation.


Nanotechnology National innovation systems Corporate research Commercialization

JEL classification

O3 O5