Tracing the links between science and technology: An exploratory analysis of scientists’ and inventors’ networks

The paper provides an exploratory analysis of the research networks linking scientists working in an open science environment, and researchers involved in the private technology domain. The study combines data on scientific co-authorship with data on patent co-invention, at the level of individual researchers, for three science-intensive technology fields, i.e. lasers, semiconductors and biotechnology, in order to assess the extent of the overlap between the two communities and to identify the role of key individuals in the process of knowledge transfer. Our findings reveal that the extent of the connectedness among scientists and inventors is rather large, and that particular individuals, i.e. authors-inventors, who act as gatekeepers and bridge the boundaries between the two domains, are fundamental to ensuring this connectivity. These individuals tend to occupy prominent positions in the scientific and the technological networks. However, our results also show maintaining a very central position in the scientific network may come at the expense of being able to fill a similarly central position in a technological network (and vice versa). Finally, preliminary analysis of the institutional origins of authors-inventors shows that one characteristic, distinctive of Europe compared to the United States, is associated with the relatively lower involvement of corporate scientists at the intersection between the two worlds of science and technology.

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