Science or graduates: How do firms benefit from the proximity of universities?

Bart Leten, Paolo Landoni, Bart van Looy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)
15 Downloads (Pure)


This paper examines the impact of universities on the technological performance of adjacent firms. We extend existing research by jointly analyzing, and comparing, the effects of education (graduates) and scientific research (publications) activities of universities on firms’ technological performance. Adopting the knowledge production framework, our study is conducted at the level of 101 Italian territorial areas (provinces) and four industries. Overall, fixed-effect panel data models reveal a positive effect of both university graduates and scientific publications on the technological performance of firms. At the same time, considerable industry differences are observed. While the provision of university graduates positively affects firm performance in all industries under study, additional effects for scientific research are only observed in electrical and pharmaceutical industries that are science-intensive and where the scientific knowledge base is changing rapidly over time. The observation that spillovers from academia into the industrial texture of provinces rely on education and research in an industry-specific manner is relevant to the design of appropriate research and innovation policies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1398-1412
JournalResearch policy
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • METIS-279476
  • IR-89721


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