The biotechnology industry has shifted in recent years in corporate policy from a more traditional, closed research and development (R&D) model to an open innovation (OI) model, leading to increased collaboration between companies and academic institutions. The literature has reinforced this shift by demonstrating the role these collaborative relationships play in contributing to high-quality innovations. In this study, I use a unique dataset composed of biotechnology patents granted in the United States from 2000-2020 to examine the relationship between patent assignee and patent quality. Specifically, I measure patent quality using the number of forward citations and patent family size and classify the biotech patents based on the number and type of their assignees (companies, government, or academic institutions). Multiple assignees—indicating the presence of collaborative behavior to produce the invention—are shown to have, in general, higher patent quality as opposed to patents with a single assignee. Patents produced by multiple companies, university-company, and university-company-government collaborations receive a higher number of forward citations relative to patents produced by a single company assignee. Also, simple patent family size is larger for patents produced by company-company collaborations as opposed to patents with a single assignee. Overall, the results support the hypothesis that cross-organizational collaborations—particularly company-company, university-company, and university-company-government collaborations—are associated with higher quality innovations in the biotechnology field, although these effects are stronger when considering number of forward citations rather than patent family size as a proxy for patent quality.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Biotechnology--Patents; Biotechnology--Research; Academic-industrial collaboration

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Science, Technology and Public Policy (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Public Policy (CLA)


Qing Miao

Advisor/Committee Member

Eric Hittinger

Advisor/Committee Member

Nathan Lee


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes