Impact of Higher Education Institutions on Regional Economies: A Joint Research Initiative



Investigating business-university innovation linkages

May 2007 – April 2008

Project Team


This research will provide comprehensive evidence for Great Britain on linkages between university research departments and private sector innovation activity. The project will address two research questions.

First, it will investigate whether firms locate their research and development (R&D) facilities near to university research departments and whether the quality of university research matters for the extent of geographic clustering. For example, do firms in the pharmaceuticals industry locate their R&D laboratories near to chemistry and medical sciences departments carrying out world-class frontier research? Evidence that they do might imply that close geographic proximity to universities enables firms to capitalise better on the expertise of university scientists. The research will also look at foreign-owned R&D labs’ geographic clustering around universities within Great Britain, relative to UK-owned firms. Evidence that foreign-owned firms locate in the vicinity of frontier research departments would be in line with firms sourcing technology from Higher Education Institutions internationally.

The second research question examines university-business interactions more directly. It will investigate whether geographic proximity to university research departments of varying quality is related to the likelihood that firms engage in co-operative R&D arrangements with universities and use information and knowledge generated by universities to help them innovate.

Selected Project Outputs

Please also see the project's ESRC page for the most up to date record of outputs.

1. Knowledge Transfer: the links between university research and business innovation Helen Simpson, CMPO Bulletin, Research in Public Policy Autumn 2007

2. Knowledge Transfer: The links between university research and business innovation Helen Simpson CMPO, 2007 Podcast

3. Geographic proximity and firm-university innovation inkages  Abramovsky & Simpson Presentation   at London School of Economics March 2008

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