Quaderni di Dipartimento, EPMQ, Università degli Studi di Pavia 168
Previous investigations showed that Italian university professors are the authors of a considerable share of the EPO patents owned by firms in science-based technological classes. The analysis of USPTO patents conducted in this paper confirms those results. Moreover, data collected through interviews to patenting professors show that the realization of patents in the context of researches funded by firms involves undergraduate and PhD students, university fellows and technicians: thus, the role of the academy appears significantly augmented. The paper also brings to light the role of academic centres of excellence in the cooperation between university and industry. Focusing on the field of electronics and applying the methodology of Social Network Analysis, the importance of a centre of excellence is pointed out, not only in the production of codified knowledge, but also in the diffusion of know-how through personal relationships. It is shown that a centre of excellence, which is the core of the principal component of the network, gives rise to a real invisible college, in which the academic and the technological world are interpenetrated. And this interpenetration does not hinder purely scientific production, but rather it seems to favour it.