What features share firms involved in patenting? The article discusses this question on the base of a survey on over 400 Italian firms of the machinery and high technology sectors which obtained European patents during the years 1995- 2004. The survey shows a profile clearly defined: they are solid and innovative firms which face highly competitive markets and achieve good economic performance. Moreover, innovative partnerships and the attitude to mix local and extra-local partnerships are highly distinctive traits. On the whole, the study confirms not only the importance of the social and territorial embeddedness of innovation, but also the importance of organizational and strategic choices made by firms. Crucial to their success is the ability to balance resources of cohesion and variety from outside and from within the organization. While external resources increase the variety of knowledge necessary for innovation, internal resources enhance the firms capacity to use such knowledge productively.
Keywords: Innovative firms, innovative networks, patents, innovation, social embeddedness, territorial embeddedness