The impact of one of the most highly cited university patents: formalisation and localization

Joaquín M. Azagra-Caro, David Barberá-Tomás, Mónica Edwards-Schachter
This paper examines the underlying mechanisms of knowledge diffusion and interrelationships between formal and informal channels attending to the localisation of spillovers between university and industry. With this aim we present a historical in-depth case study centred in one of the most highly cited university patents, developing and applying a theoretical approach that combines formalisation and localisation analytical dimensions. Our findings show how knowledge diffused through channels with different degrees of formalization (patent licenses, “pure” spillovers and consultancy contracts with the inventors). The case also evidences the pervasive delocalization of several knowledge diffusion channels and the complexity of achieving local impact, even at a privileged environment like California. The crucial diffusion mechanism channel stemmed from bidirectional knowledge flows between the university and a non-regional company, which provided the university with the specific fabrication capabilities needed to create an open-lab programme, which ultimately achieved local impact.