Knowledge transfer from universities to low- and medium-technology industries: evidence from Italian winemakers

Abstract

The aim of the study is to explore the links that firms from low and medium technology (LMT) industries establish with universities for innovative purposes. Even though knowledge transfer from university to industry has generally increased over time, it has mostly been directed at firms in high-tech industries (HT) due to the belief that firms from LMT industries often lack the absorptive capacity necessary to take advantage of external knowledge. In the case of LMT industries, university-industry knowledge transfer has received less attention from management and innovation studies, and understanding the specific conditions where universities may contribute to the innovative effort of LMT firms largely remains unexplored. With the aim of contributing to this debate, the paper focuses on the wine sector, generally considered an LMT industry. Firstly, the study assesses to which type of innovation promoted by winemakers do universities effectively contribute. Secondly, the study examines under what conditions universities assume a relevant role in the innovative activity of LMT firms. To test our hypotheses, the study uses primary data collected through a survey targeting Italian wine SMEs and runs a set of econometric evaluations. Findings show that universities represent a relevant source of knowledge mainly for organizational and commercial innovation, but not for product innovation. For these purposes, university knowledge related to social sciences has a more relevant input for firms than does knowledge with higher scientific and technological content.

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Fig. 1

source for different types of innovation

Fig. 2

source for different types of radical innovation

Notes

  1. 1.

    For a complete list of LMT industries, see https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Glossary:High-tech_classification_of_manufacturing_industries. Last accessed on March 11, 2019.

  2. 2.

    Implications for the generalizability of results are further discussed in the limitation section of the paper.

  3. 3.

    See https://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/sources/conferences/state-aid/sme/smedefinitionguide_en.pdf, last accessed on March 8, 2019.

  4. 4.

    See https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/microdata/community-innovation-survey, last accessed on March 8, 2019.

  5. 5.

    The complete list of scientific fields included in the Science Citation Index Expanded can be obtained from https://mjl.clarivate.com/scope/scope_scie/, last accessed on March 8, 2019.

  6. 6.

    Fields included in the Social Sciences Citation Index are listed in https://mjl.clarivate.com/scope/scope_ssci/, last accessed on March 8, 2019.

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Abbate, T., Cesaroni, F. & Presenza, A. Knowledge transfer from universities to low- and medium-technology industries: evidence from Italian winemakers. J Technol Transf (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10961-020-09800-x

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Keywords

  • Wine industry
  • Low- and medium-technology industry
  • Knowledge transfer
  • Local context
  • University

JEL Classification

  • O31
  • O32