PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (3): 370-382.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2019.03.007

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Spatial characteristics and proximity mechanism of technology transfer among cities in China

Yiou ZHANG1,2(), Renxu GU1,2,*(), Shuang MA3   

  1. 1. Institute of Urban Development, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    2. School of Urban and Regional Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    3. Institute of Information, Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, Shanghai 200235, China
  • Received:2018-05-05 Revised:2018-12-16 Online:2019-03-28 Published:2019-03-28
  • Contact: Renxu GU;
  • Supported by:
    Decision Consulting Project of Shanghai Municipal Government, No. 2018-GR-18.


Technology transfer is the main route of regional economic development. Cities are the center of the flow of various elements, and interactions and relationships between them is an important content of urban geography research. Therefore, in the era of knowledge economy, the mechanism of technology transfer is particularly important. Consequently, in the perspective of technology transfer and network capital and based on the patent transfer data from the State Intellectual Property Office for 2000-2015, this study explored the main structure, the sub-category model, and the spatial characteristics of the technology transfer network using Gephi, ArcGIS and Stata. The results show that: 1) Although private enterprises and universities are playing an increasingly important role in the technology transfer network in China, most of the connections are established between universities, research institutions, and their derivative enterprises, indicating that the overall connectivity is low and the network spillover effect is weak. 2) According to the patent transfer data of sub-categories, the knowledge required for innovation ability is often generated in relatively few places, and its transfer is mainly concentrated in cities, suggesting that there are some regional barriers to technology transfer between cities in China. 3) In addition, the vast majority of cities are more likely to carry out patent transfer in the same administrative area or between cities with geographical proximity or similar knowledge scale when establishing innovative ties—geographical proximity, technological proximity, and social proximity play a positive role in promoting the development of China's technology transfer network that comprises of enterprises, universities, and research institutions.

Key words: technology transfer, multi-dimensional proximities, innovation network, spatial characteristics, China