Knowledge initiative benefits the smaller EU states

Published 2011-03-24 00:00. Updated 2013-11-26 10:29

[NEWS, 17 March 2011] The smaller European nations benefit most from EU knowledge transfer initiative to make the union a world-leading knowledge-based economy, according to a new doctoral thesis from Karolinska Institutet. The aim of the study was to identify ways of ascertaining the extent to which the European financing systems perform as intended by the decision-makers.

Pauline MattssonPhoto: private

Knowledge transfer is a key component of the EU's growth strategy, which was adopted in Lisbon in 2000 and which formalises the notion that the spread of new research and competence between countries and regions helps foster innovation, jobs and economic growth. A number of new policies and financing systems have been introduced into the EU over the past decade in order to stimulate collaboration between scientists and companies in different countries, and to spread new knowledge to technologically and innovatively weaker areas of Europe, such as the former Eastern Bloc nations.

In her doctoral thesis, Pauline Mattsson has examined the effectiveness of these knowledge initiatives by studying collaborations within the EU's various framework programmes for research, scientific co-publishing, and what are known as 'patent citations'. Her results show that researchers in the smaller member states co-author with colleagues in other countries more often than those in the larger EU states, and thus can be said to benefit more by the research appropriations made available.

The collaborations that take place under the EU framework programmes are usually of a more inter-European character. However, the clearest trend was that researchers collaborating and co-publishing internationally operate all the more on a global arena rather than simply within the EU, although there were differences from country to country and discipline to discipline.

"If we use co-publication as a measure of geographical knowledge flow, we find that the EU's science policy has impacted on the researchers' day to day lives," says Ms Mattsson, researcher at the Unit for Bioentrepreneurship. "But the effect is limited and political control does not extend to other self-selected collaborations, which continue to network across the globe."

Her thesis also shows that patent citations, which are often used to measure the success of science-business collaborations in different regions, are less effective in less innovative, low-tech regions. According to Ms Mattsson, her results also suggest that subsidies to these weaker areas are not as effective as local companies employing qualified staff to promote exchanges between the academic and commercial sectors.

Doctoral thesis:

Pauline Mattsson

European knowledge transfer reflected by research collaboration and patent citations indicators

ISBN: 978-91-7457-192-9

Supervisor: Associate Professor Carl Johan Sundberg, Karolinska Institutet. Public defence: 18 March 2011 in Stockholm.

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