Do Labour Mobility and Technological Collaborations Foster Geographical Knowledge Diffusion? The Case of European Regions


  • The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the World Intellectual Property Organization. We acknowledge financial support from the Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación, ECO2011-30260-C03-03 and the project “Knowledge, Innovation, Territory (KIT)”—Programme ESPON 2013 (2010–2013). We are very grateful to CRENoS (University of Cagliari and University of Sassari) for providing us with data on patents, R&D and human capital. However, any mistakes or omissions are ours.


The goal of this paper is twofold. First, we aim to assess the role played by inventors' cross-regional mobility and collaborations in fostering knowledge diffusion across regions and subsequent innovation. Second, we intend to evaluate the feasibility of using mobility and co-patenting information to build cross-regional interaction matrices to be used within the spatial econometrics toolbox. To do so, we depart from a knowledge production function where regional innovation intensity is a function not only of the own regional innovation inputs but also external accessible knowledge stocks gained through interregional interactions. Differently from much of the previous literature, cross-section gravity models of mobility and co-patents are estimated to use the fitted values to build our “spatial” weights matrices, which characterize the intensity of knowledge interactions across a panel of 269 regions covering most European countries over 6 years.