STIP Project Highlights
A Big Deal for Small Firms
Small and medium-sized firms contribute significantly to the globalization of nanotechnology, according to a recent study by STIP researcher Andrea Fernandez-Ribas. The project, funded by the Kauffman Foundation and the Georgia Research Alliance, found that during 1996-2006 almost 40 percent of all international patents assigned to U.S.-based private businesses belong to small companies.
Her study also found that small and large firms have different patterns of internationalization. The latter are more apt to co-invent abroad and seek patent protection in emerging markets such as China, South Korea, and Russia. By contrast, small companies exhibit decreasing interest in English-speaking countries such as Canada and Australia and more interest in Germany and Japan.
Results, notes Fernandez-Ribas, also point to the “born global” character of many small companies—approximately 30 percent of small firms begin patenting abroad early, during their first three years of operation. And small-firm patents tend to be more novel and embedded in domestic innovation networks than are patents of large companies.
Among several recommendations arising from the project are these: (1) putting international patenting on the U.S. agenda and (2) developing a better understanding of small-business needs and opportunities in new markets of capital and technology. A related article is scheduled to appear in a future issue about globalization and innovation in the Review of Policy Research.