REGIONAL CONTEXT IN TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER AND PATENTS INDUCING GROWTH: STRUCTURAL MODELS FOR MORE- AND LESS-DEVELOPED REGIONS
This paper will analyse the impact of technology transfer and patent creation on growth in different regions characterised by contextual variables. Although for several decades it has been clear that regional policies tailored for one region or a group of regions may not be appropriate in other regions (Phelps Brown, 1972), only in the last two decades can attempts to differentiate approaches to regional innovation policy be found in economic literature (Tödtling & Trippl, 2005). Technology transfer from universities to businesses induced by both suppliers and customers is crucial for economic growth (Audretsch, Leyden, & Link, 2013), and the universities are the main players dealing with research and technology development for regional production and human capital (Goldstein, Bergman, & Maier, 2013; Paz & de Lourdes, 2012). The commercialization of knowledge is a complex and a multi-faceted phenomenon (Baycan & Stough, 2013), and therefore universities' contributions to regional, national and international knowledge transfer are ambiguous (Fromhold-Eisebith & Werker, 2013). This complexity is caused by regional context, which is crucial for universities' efficiency in knowledge transfer activities (Berbegal-Mirabent, Lafuente, & Sole, 2013), start-ups’ creation and success (Sternberg, 2014) and inter-organisational knowledge networks’ impact on both regional innovation capability and regional competitiveness (Huggins, Johnston, & Stride, 2012). In addition, European researchers, when compared with American and Japanese ones, often still fail to create new innovative products and services and thus undermine the development of their regions (Jackson, Brooks, Greaves, & Alexander, 2013). What is more, cooperation between businesses, universities and authorities (triple helix system), necessary for this innovative activity, is not effective in less-developed regions, mainly because of the lack of social capital (Kim, Kim, & Yang, 2012). These regions also face a weaker relationship between development stimulants and growth, and therefore innovation policies may be less effective (Pylak & Majerek, 2014).
This situation has inspired us to take an in-depth analysis of the effectiveness of technology transfer and patenting in inducing growth in different regions, especially less-developed regions. We selected 45 variables from The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) statistics, describing the regional context (i.a. tertiary education; structure of employment; structure of research and development (R&D) expenditures and personnel, including the higher education sector; unemployment) and regional performance (i.a. patent composition by owner, scope, internationality, cooperation, technology domain, gross domestic product (GDP), gross value added (GVA)) for the 319 OECD regions examined. Then, using cluster analysis, we isolated two groups of regions similar in input variables. By canonical analysis, we were able to determine structural models of the relationships between dependent and independent variables for each group. We found differences between groups of regions and a much lower impact of technology transfer and patenting on growth in less-developed regions compared to developed regions. These less-developed regions need a different approach in creating research and innovation strategies or a specific technology transfer policy developed to reduce regional disparities in economic growth (Huang et al., 2013).