University–Industry collaborations and international knowledge spillovers: a joint-patent investigation

  • Antonio Messeni Petruzzelli
  • Gianluca MurgiaEmail author


The present work aims at investigating under which circumstances University–Industry (UI) collaborations develop innovations whose spillovers are largely reused by other foreign firms in the development of subsequent and related innovations. In order to answer to this research question, we carried out several analyses from a sample of 772 joint patents in the pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and medical technology sectors, developed by German and Italian universities in collaboration with a firm. Our results show a positive effect of UI collaborations involving local partners, which encourage knowledge sharing and the adoption and combination of foreign knowledge by the same partners, which may complement knowledge and resources available at national level. Finally, we pointed out a positive moderating effect of university specialization, which may increase partners’ absorptive capacity, hence favoring a more effective use of foreign knowledge. Our paper enables a better understanding of the determinants of the innovative impact of UI collaborations, by shedding new light on the mechanisms of global innovations systems that characterize the industries under analysis. Moreover, our work shows how innovation processes in these industries may be favored by adequate search strategies and the choice of effective university partners.


University–Industry collaboration International knowledge spillovers Geographical proximity Foreign knowledge Absorptive capacity 

JEL Classification

O33 O32 



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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mechanics, Mathematics, and ManagementPolytechnic University of BariBariItaly
  2. 2.Department of Information Engineering and MathematicsUniversity of SienaSienaItaly

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