Nanotechnology is one of the fastest-advancing fields in science and technology and is anticipated to make great contributions in many large and economically important industries such as information technology and medicine, and consequently, in technological progress and economic growth. For this reason, many studies in economics have been recently initiated to understand how nanotechnology is diffused and transmitted through the economy. In this chapter we study one particular channel through which nanotechnology is transmitted: from university to industry. The outcomes of university research disseminate along a number of pathways: through scholarly publications and the material published in universities’ patent applications, at conferences where scholarly work is presented and where industry and academic research personnel mingle, and via informal social networks. Firms also learn about university research after employing or collaborating with researchers who work or have worked in university laboratories. In fact, social scientists who study innovation suspect that certain kinds of important knowledge become available to a firm only with sustained, close interaction with researchers who possess this knowledge through an employment or collaborative research arrangement. We propose to examine the role of research personnel as a pathway for the diffusion of ideas from university to industry, especially nanotechnology industry, utilizing information contained in patent records.
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