A Handbook of Industrial Districts
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A Handbook of Industrial Districts

Edited by Giacomo Becattini, Marco Bellandi and Lisa De Propis

In this comprehensive original reference work, the editors have brought together an unrivalled group of distinguished scholars and practitioners to comment on the historical and contemporary role of industrial districts (IDs).
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Chapter 40: The University Research-Centric District in the United States

Donald Patton and Martin Kenney


Donald Patton and Martin Kenney* 1. Introduction The importance of new firms founded to exploit the technology developed by universities has grown significantly in the US as developing industries based on new technologies is seen as the essential means by which America competes in the global economy. This faith in the ability of universities to promote economic development, though, is by no means limited to the US. Indeed, Anne Miner (Miner et al. 2001) found in her survey of university officers in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, as well as the US, that an international consensus among policymakers has emerged that the university can be a basis for local and regional development. In this chapter the characteristics and nature of a university research-based district in the US is described.1 Although such districts exist in other countries, these districts first were noticed in the US in the post-war period and are most common in American settings. As Scott Shane (2004) observed in his extensive review of university start-ups, the Second World War and its aftermath transformed American research universities, particularly with respect to federal government funding of research. Throughout the last half of the 20th century and into the 21st, real university R&D expenditures increased significantly both absolutely and as a percentage of total US R&D. The Bayh–Dole Act of 1980 giving universities (and other federal contractors) the exclusive property rights to inventions certified and generalized a process of commercialization that had already been underway (Mowery et...

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