PurposeThe paper addresses the strategies adopted by science-based start-ups to gain access to knowledge resources at diverse spatial levels. It investigates the presence and relative importance of ties endowed with different types of proximity in firms’ knowledge networks, and the role played by non-geographical proximity in gaining access to knowledge sources, both nearby and distant.Design/methodology/approachAn analytical framework is proposed distinguishes between two dimensions of proximity - geographical and relational - leading to different forms of proximity that are further linked with modes of knowledge interaction (formal or informal). A methodology for network reconstruction is developed and applied to Portuguese molecular biology firms, permitting to identify the origin, location and nature of the ties and to position them along forms of proximity.FindingsThe results show that the incidence and mix of the different forms of proximity vary in firms’ individual networks, being possible to identify several patterns. They also uncover the relevance of relational proximity, whether or not coexisting with geographical proximity and often compensating for its absence. Research limitations/implicationsThis approach needs to be complemented with further research that that refines the operationalization of relational proximity, by attempting to disentangle the influence of different types of non-geographical proximity. Further research will also explore in greater detail the factors that may explain variety in the proximity-mix of firms’ networks.Practical implicationsThe paper offers insights into the knowledge sourcing strategies adopted by science-based firms located outside the main concentrations of knowledge in their field.Originality/valueThe paper contributes to the literature on the role of proximity in knowledge access, by developing and empirically testing a taxonomy of forms of proximity considering the characteristics of science-based firms. It uncovers the mechanisms through which relational proximity can contribute to span spatial boundaries, highlighting the role played by entrepreneurs’ personal networks.
European Journal of Innovation Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 8, 2016