The fundamental aim of this research is to understand the processes technology intensive firms deploy in transforming scientific and technological knowledge into commercial products and services. Focusing on the Information and Communications, and biotechnology sectors the study will be comparative, exploring these processes of knowledge transfer in the UK, and Austria. These countries are of different scales, with different forms of industry organization, the UK market-liberal, Austria corporatist, but with increasingly private involvement in innovation support. These countries have concentrations of the target sectors in their capital city regions and specialised concentrations elsewhere. The research aims to assess, comparatively, differences in collective learning about knowledge transfer, keeping in mind that firms in isolaed settings may be functionally close to distant firms or knowledge organizations with whom they have close economic links. But where they are in geographical proximity, the literature suggests, they gain from knowledge spillovers or free knowledge from neighbouring firms and researchers. The research will involve surveys of firms in the target sectors in a variety of settings to measure their business performance. Then, a further key objective will be to test whether spillovers affect performance in any definable way. This will involve questions of different kinds of setting, differential presence of innovation support and different national and regional institutions and policies related to innovation. Of key importance is the objective of ascertaining the extent to which a firms milieuof other firms and organizations, which are often thought to be crucial in providing spillovers of a collaborative kind, do in fact do this, or whether much of this involves market transactions and relatively limited free goods knowledge of importance. Finally, on these results will hinge the possibility of far-reaching policy advice. For, were successful firms and clusters shown to possess strong market support from investors, specialist business services and consultants, this would mean public bodies re-thinking their innovation support policies from direct to indirect aid. Alternatively, market weakness may be found generically at points in the knowledge transfer value chain or in certain kinds of setting, meaning the role of precise public support at these points may be vital for firm innovation through exploitation of scientific and technological research

Start date
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
End date
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Grant holder
Professor Philip Cooke
Dr Nicholas Clifton
Grant amount
Grant reference
Human Geography
Grant type