In May of 1990 I met Richard Florida at a conference in Montreal, Canada on ‘Networks of Innovators’. Over lunch Richard and I sketched out an idea for a research agenda on regional innovation. I had not previously considered doing research on regional innovation but was intrigued by developments in the 1980s that had a regional focus. Two graduate students that I had the pleasure of working with over the years, Maryann Feldman at Carnegie Mellon University and Attila Varga at West Virginia University made the ensuing research possible. Adam Jaffe was the first to identify the extent to which university research spills over into the generation of commercial activity. His statistical results provided evidence that corporate patent activity responds positively to commercial spillovers from university research. Building on Jaffe’s work Feldman (1994) expanded the knowledge production function to innovative activity and incorporated aspects of the regional knowledge infrastructure. She found that innovative activity is conditioned by the knowledge infrastructure, and responds favorably to spillovers from university research at the state level, strengthening Jaffe’s findings. Attila Varga (1998) built on this solid foundation. His main concern was whether university-generated economic growth observed in certain regions and for selected industries can be achieved by other regions. He extends the Jaffe–Feldman approach by focusing on a more precise measure of local geographic spillovers. Varga approaches the issue of knowledge spillovers from an explicit spatial econometric perspective and for the first time implements the classic knowledge production function for 125 Metropolitan Statistical...
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