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University-owned and university-invented patents: a network analysis on two Italian universities

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Abstract

The paper presents results from social network analysis applied to data on patenting of academics inventors employed in two Italian universities (Trieste University and Udine university, both located in Friuli Venezia Giulia region). The aim is to compare the co-invention networks generated by the academic inventors, tenured by one of the two universities, in their patenting activity with several organisations—firms, public research organisations—and in their activity for patents owned by one of the two universities. Results show that, despite the structural similarity, non-marginal differences emerge in the interaction of the two forms of patenting across the two universities. Empirical evidence suggests new research questions related in particular to the role played by the differing university patenting strategies in shaping local networks.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    However, it should be pointed out that the number of co-patents is relatively limited, probably because co-assignment presents important challenges in terms of appropriability.

  2. 2.

    For instance, the different entrepreneurial behaviours are reflected in the creation of university spinoff companies (that substantially depends on the patenting strategy of the academia). Until 2012, Trieste University had created 15 spinoff firms, compared to 34 by Udine University. The number of Udine’s spinoff companies is the fifth largest among the Italian universities.

  3. 3.

    This argument can be related to a recent extension of geographical proximity, the so-called “systemic proximity” that emerges when economic agents share the same innovation system. Innovation systems create an environment where economic agents use the same formal and informal rules, subject to the same policies and cultural background (Metcalfe 2005).

  4. 4.

    Clustering and blockmodeling optimisation of the partitions have been performed using the Pajek software. http://pajek.imfm.si/doku.php

  5. 5.

    The KEINS database has been produced for the EU-sponsored project on Knowledge-based Entrepreneurship: Innovation, Networks and Systems (KEINS) and contains information on university researchers from France, Italy, and Sweden, who appear as designated inventors on one or more patent application registered at the European Patent Office in the period 1978–2004. See Lissoni et al. (2006) for further details.

  6. 6.

    The International Patent Classification (IPC) is a hierarchical patent classification system used in over 100 countries to classify the content of patents in a uniform manner. http://web2.wipo.int/ipcpub.

  7. 7.

    The full specification of the D06 code is “treatment of textiles or the like; laundering; flexible materials not otherwise provided for”.

  8. 8.

    The dissimilarity d1 between two actors is the (normalised) number of neighbours they do not share (de Nooy et al. 2005).

  9. 9.

    The fractionalisation of co-invention is highly recognised in many studies (see, for instance, Breschi and Catalini 2010).

  10. 10.

    Some of these companies also have operating units based in the Area Science Park, one of the main and more experienced multisector science and technology parks in Italy, which is located in the area of Trieste.

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Acknowledgments

This paper was financially supported by the project “Analisi statistica di dati relazionali: aspetti metodologici e applicazioni a reti di diffusione della conoscenza”, funded by the “Università degli Studi di Trieste - Finanziamento per Ricercatori di Ateneo2011″ and by the P.O.R. 2007/2013 FSE Project S.H.A.R.M. “Supporting Human Assets in Research and Mobility”, Azione 1.1, promoted by the “Consorzio per l’AREA di ricerca scientifica e tecnologica di Trieste”. We would like to thank the anonymous referees for their useful and valuable comments.

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Correspondence to Domenico De Stefano.

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Capellari, S., De Stefano, D. University-owned and university-invented patents: a network analysis on two Italian universities. Scientometrics 99, 313–329 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11192-013-1211-5

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Keywords

  • Academic patenting
  • Science-industry linkages
  • Social network analysis
  • Blockmodeling
  • Brokerage