The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 36, Issue 6, pp 587–604 | Cite as

National innovation systems and the globalization of nanotechnology innovation

  • Philip ShapiraEmail author
  • Jan Youtie
  • Luciano Kay


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 



This research received support from the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University (National Science Foundation Award 0531194). The findings and observations contained in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Transatlantic Workshop on Nanotechnology Innovation and Policy, March 24–26, 2010, Atlanta, Georgia.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, Manchester Business SchoolUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA
  3. 3.Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA

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