Lesa Mitchell at the Kauffman Foundation pointed me to this fascinating new paper on the role of star scientists in entrepreneurship and commercialization. Here’s the summary:
We follow 1,838 stars’ careers 1981-2004, using their publication history to locate them each year. The number of stars in a U.S. region or in one of the top-25 science and technology countries has a consistently significant and quantitatively large positive effect on the probability of firm entry in the same area of science and technology. Thus the stars themselves rather than their potentially disembodied discoveries play a key role in the formation or transformation of high-tech industries.
… Stars become more concentrated over time, moving from areas with relatively few peers to those with many in their discipline. A special counter-flow operating on the U.S. versus the other 24 countries is the tendency of foreign-born American stars to return to their homeland when it develops sufficient strength in their area of science and technology. In contrast high impact articles and university articles and patents all tend to diffuse, becoming more equally distributed over time.