Chapter 7: Who leads whom? Technological leadership in nanotechnology: evidence from patent data
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Innovation forms the basis of all competitiveness, whether at the individual level, firm level or country level. Innovation by firms enables them to offer products that are differentiated from their competitors’ offerings and achieve greater efficiency of operations. At the national level, innovation is perhaps the most important driver of economic growth and overall quality of life. In this chapter, we focus on one particularly important type of innovation – technological innovations as manifested in patents – and attempt to examine technological leadership in nanotechnology, a new emerging technology. In particular, we seek to understand whether universities lead firms in this technology, and whether there are any broad patterns of inter firm heterogeneity in technological leadership. Finally, we investigate two possible mechanisms – citations to university patents, and publications and article collaborations with universities – as possible drivers of inter firm differences in technological leadership. In so doing, we add to the empirical evidence on the technological leadership of universities, especially in a new technology. Furthermore, our results shed new light on inter firm heterogeneity in innovativeness, and particularly highlight the importance of ownership in driving innovation quality.

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