Large corporate labs play an important role in innovation. Recently, there has been a trend toward universities producing scientific research and then corporate labs developing this research into practical applications. This division of scientific research labor can have negative consequences for the development of general purpose technologies and other enabling technologies. These technologies rely on a positive feedback loop of innovation, from seeding to complementary trajectories and back, in order to generate substantial productivity gains for companies and for the economy overall. A push against the increasing division of scientific research labor may catalyze the feedback loop. We explore this possibility in the context of the development of quantum computers. After a change in companies’ incentives to engage in scientific research, following a surprise announcement about the near-term commercial potential of quantum computing, we document a rise in company academic publications and patents in quantum computing hardware. Soon after, we document a rise in academic publications and patents in the complementary software trajectory. We also find suggestive evidence of a feedback loop between the hardware and the software trajectories. We interpret these results to suggest complementarities between company and university scientific research in the context of a newly emerging enabling technology.
Ansprechpartner: Daehyun Kim
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