Universities going global with business co-publications

A new working paper by Robert Tijssen, Wouter van de Klippe and Alfredo Yegros has found that nearly half of the UK universities analysed are looking further field than ever for their research cooperation with the business sector.

Working Paper 50 found that of the 48 universities it examined, 23 seem to be ‘glocalising’ their interactions with the corporate world in terms of their business co-publications.

This exploratory study presented a new systematic way of looking at ‘university-business interactions’ in the UK university system and its analysis unfolds the geographical patterns and annual trends during the years 2008-2017.

Its focuses on the universities’ research cooperation interactions, but also incorporate data on cross sectoral mobility of researchers.

Analysing the author affiliate addresses listed on their university-business co-publications (UBCs), the working paper measured the geographical distance between pairs of university-business addresses and defines a series of expanding ‘distance zones’ according to where the business sector research partner is located.

The zones range from an ultra-short distance (0-49 km from the university’s city) to ultra-long distances (located more than 4 999 km away).

The annual growth trends in UBC quantities reveal a consistent overall trend towards higher levels of globalisation where partner firms are at least 500 km from the university.

Five universities are significantly globalising. However, many universities also show an increase of UBCs with local firms, often within a 100 km range.

Tijssen commented: “This empirical study taps into a novel, rich source of comparative information on the UK’s research-intensive university sector, especially with regards to research cooperation with industry and cross-sectoral mobility of its academic researchers.

“As such, it not only opens new avenues for further in-depth enquiry, it may also offer valuable supplementary information to existing statistical data from the Higher Education-Business and Community Interaction survey and possibly also new indicators on knowledge transfer for the UK’s Knowledge Exchange Framework,” he added.