New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Charlie Karlsson, Börje Johansson and Roger R. Stough
Chapter 10: Accessibility to R & D and Patent Production
10. Accessibility to R&D and patent production Urban Gråsjö INTRODUCTION 10.1 The five largest municipalities in Sweden accounting for 20 per cent of Sweden’s population also account for 44 per cent of Sweden’s patent applications. Can this be explained by the high concentration of university and company R&D to these municipalities, or is it because of other factors? In order to get satisfactory explanations of questions like this, the chapter starts with a discussion of the importance of proximity for knowledge flows and innovation systems. Knowledge flows is a concept that covers different types of flows where knowledge is involved. In Johansson (2004) knowledge flows are divided into two main groups: (i) Transaction-based flows, that is the parties involved agree on a transaction of knowledge; (ii) Knowledge spillovers, that is knowledge is an unintended side-effect of ordinary activities. Knowledge spillovers can in turn be mediated by market mechanisms or they can be a pure externality. A pure externality in this context is for example when companies observe and copy techniques from each other. Some models of knowledge diffusion assume that geography plays no role in the cost of adoption (Spence, 1984; Cohen and Levinthal, 1990). Other models based on theories of localization suggest that just because knowledge spills over does not mean that it transmits without costs across geographic space. In particular, these theories argue that geographic proximity reduces the cost of accessing and absorbing knowledge spillovers. Fundamental to the theories of localized spillovers is the distinction...
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