There is an ongoing discussion on this blog about attracting foreign investment in R&D in Ireland. In a recent research paper we analysed the location decisions of foreign affilates in the R&D sector incorported in the European Union over 1999-2006. Our research results suggest that, on average the location probability increases with market potential, agglomeration economies, R&D intensity and proximity to centres of research excellence. The determinants of the location choice of R&D foreign affiliates vary depending on the country of origin of the foreign investor. Thus, it appears that agglomeration externalities and business R&D intensity had a higher positive effect on the propensity to locate in an EU region in the case of multinationals from North America in comparison to European based multinationals. Proximity to centres of research excellence had a positive and significant effect on the location choice for North American R&D multinationals but no significant effect in the case of European R&D multinationals.
Our research results suggest a number of policy implications. First, policy aiming at increasing the R&D intensity of regions are likely to foster the attractiveness of regions to R&D foreign investment. Second, positive externalities from clustering of R&D foreign affiliates outweigh competition effects. Third, given the heterogeneous behaviour of foreign investors, differentiated policy depending on target partner countries can increase the success of such policies.