University-firm collaboration (UFC) is expected to have a positive impact on firms and universities, as well as on the regions where such interactions take place. In the case of firms, this collaboration is meant to enhance the innovation of products and practices at corporate level, leading to a better economic performance, which might boost the positive effects of industry on regions too. In the case of universities, this collaboration can enable knowledge dissemination and technology transfer. These partnerships support universities’ competitiveness in terms of internationalisation and impact on industry and society. Universities can address their ‘third mission’ through collaboration with industry, responding to both societal needs and market demands. In this sense, UFC could be considered a tool for regional development. The empirical studies on the relationship between the practice of UFC, as a specific case of R&D partnership, and development of regions, are limited, especially in quantitative terms. This paper is aimed at exploring the impact of university-firm collaboration on the economic growth and societal development of regions, making use of data from Spanish firms and regions. Preliminary findings from show that there is a moderate positive relationship between the emergence of university-firm collaborations and most regional development indicators. UFC strengthens knowledge management and innovation capacity at industry, indirectly generating a positive effect on regions’ economy and human capital. The collaboration can also tackle societal needs, directly generating positive effects on citizens’ life. Further research is required to study the nature and drivers of the observed moderate positive relationship between UFC and regional development.
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