7. Collaboration on innovation

Businesses collaborating on innovation with higher education or research institutions, by size, 2012-14
As a percentage of product and/or process-innovating businesses in each size category
picture

Note: International comparability may be limited due to differences in innovation survey methodologies and country-specific response patterns. European countries follow harmonised survey guidelines with the CIS.

Source: OECD, based on the 2017 OECD survey of national innovation statistics and the Eurostat, Community Innovation Survey (CIS-2014), http://oe.cd/inno-stats, June 2017. StatLink contains more data. See chapter notes.

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933619068

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On average, only 13% of innovating SMEs develop their innovations in collaboration with universities or research institutions, compared to 31% for large firms.

Businesses specialise in order to be more competitive and collaboration enables them to make use of a broader pool of resources and knowledge while sharing risks. Patterns of collaboration are influenced by business characteristics and their innovation objectives. For example, R&D-based forms of innovation may call for different types of partners. Collaboration with higher education or public research institutions constitutes an important source of knowledge transfer for large firms. In most countries, such firms are usually two to three times more likely to engage in this type of collaboration than small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Collaboration for innovation is more frequent with suppliers and customers. Among large firms, suppliers play a dominant role as value chains become increasingly integrated. For countries such as Finland, Korea, Germany and the United Kingdom, collaboration with clients is equally or more important especially for innovating SMEs. This may be an indication of the importance of users in driving innovation.

Foreign partners can play an important role in the innovation process, as global value chains gain in significance. International innovation collaboration rates vary widely across countries. In some small open economies, collaboration with partners abroad is particularly high. This may reflect factors such as sectoral specialisation, limited opportunities for domestic collaboration and, in some cases, proximity to external centres of knowledge. Business size appears to be a strong determinant of international collaboration: large firms have a much higher propensity to collaborate internationally than SMEs, regardless of the overall rate of international collaboration.

Definitions

Innovation collaboration involves active participation with other organisations in joint innovation projects (i.e. those aimed at introducing a new or significantly improved product or process), but excludes pure contracting out of innovation-related work. It can involve the joint implementation of innovations with customers and suppliers, as well as partnerships with other firms or organisations.

International collaboration on innovation refers to active cross-border participation in innovation collaborations.

The classification of firms by size follows the recommendations of the Oslo Manual. In a majority of countries, size is calculated on the basis of numbers of persons employed. SMEs are defined as firms with 10-249 employees, with exceptions noted in the chapter notes.

Businesses collaborating on innovation with suppliers and clients, by size, 2012-14
As percentage of product and/or process-innovating businesses in each size category
picture

Note: International comparability may be limited due to differences in innovation survey methodologies and country-specific response patterns. European countries follow harmonised survey guidelines with the CIS.

Source: OECD, based on the 2017 OECD survey of national innovation statistics and the Eurostat, Community Innovation Survey (CIS-2014), http://oe.cd/inno-stats, June 2017. StatLink contains more data. See chapter notes.

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933619087

Businesses engaged in international collaboration for innovation, by size, 2012-14
As a percentage of product and/or process-innovating businesses in each size category
picture

Note: International comparability may be limited due to differences in innovation survey methodologies and country-specific response patterns. European countries follow harmonised survey guidelines with the CIS.

Source: OECD, based on the 2017 OECD survey of national innovation statistics and the Eurostat, Community Innovation Survey (CIS-2014), http://oe.cd/inno-stats, June 2017. StatLink contains more data. See chapter notes.

 http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933619106

Measurability

In surveys adopting the Community Innovation Survey (CIS) model, collaboration rates apply to firms with product or process innovations. In other innovation surveys this information applies to all types of innovative firms. The concept of innovation collaboration differs across different survey models when the group of firms for which collaboration is measured varies.

Results may also reflect survey design and features that impact on firms’ responses. Design features such as question order, scope or combination with other types of surveys may influence answers to questions on innovation activity and follow-on questions regarding collaboration with other parties. These comparability challenges are being reviewed as part of the ongoing revision of the OECD/Eurostat Oslo Manual on measuring innovation in business (http://oe.cd/oslomanual).